False Authorities

Acta Analytica:1-19 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

An epistemic agent A is a false epistemic authority for others iff they falsely believe A to be in a position to help them accomplish their epistemic ends. A major divide exists between what I call "epistemic quacks", who falsely believe themselves to be relevantly competent, and "epistemic charlatans", i.e., false authorities who believe or even know that they are incompetent. Both types of false authority do not cover what Lackey (2021) calls "predatory experts": experts who systematically misuse their social-epistemic status as a cover for predatory behavior. Qua experts, predatory experts are competent and thus could (and maybe sometimes do) help their clients. But should we count them as genuine epistemic authorities? No, I argue, they are false epistemic authorities because, in addition to their practical and moral misconduct, such experts systematically deceive their clients, thereby thwarting the clients’ epistemic ends.

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Christoph Jäger
University of Innsbruck

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