Measuring Consensus and Disagreement in Ethics




A pair of philosophers are studying consensus and disagreement among philosophers on ethical issues, as well as consensus and disagreement on such issues between philosophers and the general public.

I have a question about this for you all, but first, these philosophers—Jonathan Spelman (Ohio Northern) and Mark Boespflug (Fort Lewis)—have a message for you. They write:

Consensus and disagreement within the scientific community are epistemically significant. Numerous consensus studies have given us a good sense of what scientists, as a group, think about climate change, and whether it is human-caused.

We speculate that consensus and disagreement are, likewise, epistemically significant in ethics. As a consequence, we think they should be empirically measured. But there is currently little or no empirical data on what philosophers, or ethicists more specifically, think about various ethical issues. We’re also in the dark about how their views might differ from the population at large. It would be valuable, then, to gain a clearer sense of whether and to what extent there are issues upon which ethicists largely converge.

Our goal is to try to answer these questions, but to do that we need your help! We need philosophers—especially ethicists—to complete our survey on a variety of ethical issues. If you are able to spend 15 minutes filling out our survey on a variety of ethical issues, we would greatly appreciate it. And tell your friends! The more data we are able to collect, the better sense we will have for what philosophers and ethicists think about ethical issues.

If you are willing to help us out, you can find the survey here:

So go take that survey, and then, if you’re up for it, take up this question:

On what (real world / non-thought-experiment) ethical issue is it the case that both (a) philosophers tend to agree with each other about what to do or what to think about it, and (b) philosophers tend to disagree with non-philosophers about what to do or what to think about it?


Originally appeared on Daily Nous Read More