Master Class & Research Workshop
Disagreement: Current Topics
with Elke Brendel & Filippo Ferrari (University of Bonn)

19-22 September 2017
Department of Philosophy & Communication Studies, University of Bologna

Course Description

In the past few years, the topic of disagreement has received a great deal of attention. In particular, four clusters of issues have been at the core of recent discussions in the philosophy of language and epistemology. First, and foremost, there is the conceptual issue of how to understand the very notion of disagreement and of whether some kind of pluralistic account is needed in order to capture the variety of phenomena that intuitively are thought to be instances of disagreement. Second, there is the question of how to distinguish in a principled way between disputes based on the occurrence of some genuine disagreement and disputes which turn out to be merely verbal. Third, there is the issue of which semantics for natural languages best capture disagreement phenomena. Here various forms of contextualism, relativism, invariantism and expressivism have been elaborated and defended against recalcitrant ‘data’ concerning disagreement-related phenomena. Last, there is a trend of research within epistemology that has focused on the normative significance of disagreement, in particular on the questions whether some form of faultless disagreement is possible and how to rationally respond to a situation of disagreement.

Research on these four clusters has progressed quite significantly, in fact reaching a point of high sophistication and technicality. This course, which is primarily but not exclusively intended for master students and PhD students, aims at providing a systematic map of the current cutting-edge literature on disagreement in order to allow students to achieve a full grasp of the complexity of this much-debated topic. 

The course will be structured in four main sessions, one for each topic. Students will be asked to read the suggested essays and prepare questions for discussion. For each session we will provide a short introduction and an handout outlining the main positions in the recent debate. Most part of each session will be dedicated to a critical examination and discussion of the assigned readings. An up-to-date syllabus listing both essential and suggested readings will be provided. 

Following the Master Course there will be a two-days research workshop focusing on issues closely related to the topics of the course (PROGRAMME; CALL FOR ABSTRACTS).

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the Department of Philosophy & Communication Studies, University of Bologna, COGITO Research Centre in Philosophy, and the Erasmus+ programme for their generous support. 


Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies, University of Bologna
Sala Rossa, Via Azzo Gardino 23, 40122 Bologna

Via Azzo Gardino, 23