Research Projects

SERG hosts a number of projects in epistemology that involve members of the group as well as researchers at partner institutions. For further information about any of the projects please feel free to get in touch with the listed project contact. 

The Epistemology and Social Psychology of Complex Disagreement

ContactKlemens Kappel
: Disagreement is ubiquitous in many areas of life, including scientific, political and moral domains. How we should rationally respond when someone disagrees with us has recently been the focus of philosophers working in social epistemology. However, the disagreements involved in philosophical debate are usually idealized in ways that risk removing the discussion far from real life disagreements. The aim of this project is to contribute to the social epistemology and social psychology of disagreements that involve.

  • Large sets of interrelated and basic propositions about fundamental epistemic principles or trusted sources of evidence
  • Elements such as faith and trust in addition to outright belief, and
  • Agents with the actual psychology of human beings.

Important real-life disagreements are very often instances of such complex disagreements.

The project will seek to provide a comprehensive and coherent conceptualization of the important forms of complex disagreement, incorporate recent findings from the social psychology of disagreement as well as conduct a set of psychological experiments, expand the current epistemological analysis of disagreement to certain forms of complex disagreement (such as deep disagreement), and analyze the implications of complex disagreements for knowledge transmission.

The project is relevant for understanding epistemological, moral and psychological features of any domain of human interaction where disagreement is a part, including political and religious conflicts in democratic societies, interdisciplinary research projects, and bureaucracies.

Participants: Klemens Kappel (Associate Professor), Bjørn Hallsson (PhD fellow), Josefine Lomholt Pallavicini (PhD fellow).
: The project is sponsored by the Danish Research Council for the Humanities. More information here.
Funding period
: 2014-2017.

The Role of Groups in Complex Disagreement (DISAGROUP)

Contact: Fernando Broncano-Berrocal
: The DISAGROUP project will investigate the phenomenon of complex disagreement in society from a philosophical perspective. Social epistemology has been mainly devoted to the study of peer disagreement (the kind of disagreement among individuals who share the same evidence and intellectual capacities). However, real-life disagreements such as long-standing religious, political or economic disagreements have a much more complex structure: the involved parties are not normally individual epistemic peers but groups that do not possess the same evidence or intellectual resources, they involve a lot of claims and are usually sustained not for the sake of knowledge but by elements such as faith, hate, intolerance or distrust. DISAGROUP aims to fill a gap in the philosophical literature by giving a general account of the structural elements that make most real-life disagreements so complex and difficult to understand, with a particular focus on the role played by groups in sustaining complex disagreements. In particular, DISAGROUP will address four main research questions:

  1. Are the beliefs and other attitudes that ground complex disagreements beliefs and attitudes of groups with their own distinctive agency or by contrast of individuals that merely happen to believe the same thing?
  2. Is complex disagreement better characterized in terms of belief or alternatively in terms of acceptance?
  3. Can complex disagreement be characterized (at least partially) in terms of a difference in epistemic virtues among the disagreeing parties (groups) and, if so, what kind of virtues are they?
  4. What is the rational response to complex disagreement? More specifically, does complex disagreement rationally compel groups to revise their beliefs or joint acceptances or does it also compel them to become more intellectually virtuous?

Participant: Fernando Broncano-Berrocal (Postdoc, Marie Curie Fellow).
: The project is sponsored by the European Comission (Horizon 2020, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship 2014).
Funding period
: 2016-2018.