Experts: What are they and how can laypeople identify them?

In Jennifer Lackey & Aidan McGlynn (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology. Oxford University Press (2024)
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Abstract

In this chapter, I survey and assess various answers to two basic questions concerning experts: (1) What is an expert?; (2) How can laypeople identify the relevant experts? These questions are not mutually independent, since the epistemology and the metaphysics of experts should go hand in hand. On the basis of our platitudes about experts, I will argue that the prevailing accounts of experts such as truth-linked, knowledge-linked, understanding-linked or service-oriented accounts are inadequate. In contrast, I will defend an evidence-linked account of expertise. In the second part of the chapter, I address the question of how laypeople can identify experts in this sense. Here, I will argue that agreement among experts plays a major role. I will outline how laypeople can follow this criterion without running into circularity.

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Thomas Grundmann
University of Cologne

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