International Conference

Psychological Perspectives on Deep Disagreements

Kiel University
Leibnizstraße 1, 24118 Kiel, Room 204
September 15–16, 2016


Registration is free, but places are limited. Contact
Scientific Organization: Bernd Simon, Silke Eschert

Deep disagreements lie at the heart of many contemporary political, social, ideological and religious conflicts. We consider deep disagreements those that can neither be resolved by compelling arguments nor by further information and that are not based on easily discernible misunderstandings. Importantly, these issues are often in need of decision-making or regulation. Hence, public discussion is necessary but not necessarily easy.
The Deep Disagreement project connects debates from different academic disciplines. In philosophy, deep disagreements are treated as an epistemic problem. In the recent philosophical debate on “peer disagreement”, the question has been raised how epistemic peers (i.e. people with the same knowledge and intellectual capacities) should reasonably react to disagreements. When one’s epistemic peers come to an opposite conclusion concerning the same issue, is it still reasonable to favor one’s own conclusion over that of one’s peers? In legal theory, the debate about the “right answer thesis” is concerned with the question whether legal disputes always have a single right answer. If we do not presuppose that there always is a right answer, then what do we argue about in those hard cases where there probably is none?
We would like to use this conference to further explore psychological perspectives on deep disagreements. What can psychology contribute to explain the development, the perpetuation and possibly the resolution of deep disagreements? We think that the following topics may be of central importance:

  • How is (conflicting) information processed in the face of disagreement?
  • What are the reasons for attitude polarization? And what can be done to overcome polarization?
  • How important are values and moral convictions? Can values be negotiated?
  • What role do social identity and group formation play in the development and perpetuation of deep disagreements? Can the transformation of intergroup relations resolve disagreements of this kind?

Keynote Speakers

Rainer Bromme (Münster):
How could we know what is true when even scientists disagree: Deep disagreements and the public understanding of science

Linda Skitka (Chicago):
The social and political implications of moral conviction

Craig McGarty (Sydney):
Opposite people on opposite sides? The social psychology of deep disagreements and the formation of group consciousness

  • In Kooperation mit der Universität Kiel