Monday, February 28, 2005

Are Disagreements Honest?

In my "Nature of Truth" essay from my 9 part truth treatise that launched as a blog, I originally wrote: "We may disagree on some of the particulars, but hopefully we can just agree to disagree in those areas." I was wrong. Agreeing to disagree is a dishonest way to proceed in truth seeking if we share common priors.

The title of this blog entry is from a technical paper I googled by Tyler Cowen and Robin Hanson with the same title: "Are Disagreements Honest?" These authors have some interesting comments in their paper such as: "Most people fundamentally accept not being a truth-seeker" and "few people have truth-seeking rational cores." It is a fairly challenging read, but the conclusions are interesting. The authors state this in their conclusion:
We have therefore hypothesized that most disagreement is due to most people not being meta-rational, i.e., honest truth-seekers who understand disagreement theory and abide by the rationality standards that most people uphold. We have suggested that this is at root due to people fundamentally not being truth-seeking. This in turn suggests that most disagreement is dishonest.
In their conclusion the authors give some consideration on how one might try to become more honest when disagreeing, and as a truth seeker I'm bound by my integrity to at least investigate the truth-claims of something like that.

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