Arguments from Expert Opinion and Persistent Bias

Argumentation 32 (2):175-195 (2018)
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Abstract

Accounts of arguments from expert opinion take it for granted that expert judgments count as (defeasible) evidence for propositions, and so an argument that proceeds from premises about what an expert judges to a conclusion that the expert is probably right is a strong argument. In Mizrahi (2013), I consider a potential justification for this assumption, namely, that expert judgments are significantly more likely to be true than novice judgments, and find it wanting because of empirical evidence suggesting that expert judgments under uncertainty are not significantly more likely to be true than novice judgments or even chance. In this paper, I consider another potential justification for this assumption, namely, that expert judgments are not influenced by the cognitive biases novice judgments are influenced by, and find it wanting, too, because of empirical evidence suggesting that experts are vulnerable to pretty much the same cognitive biases that novices are vulnerable to. If this is correct, then the basic assumption at the core of accounts of arguments from expert opinion, namely, that expert judgments count as (defeasible) evidence for propositions, remains unjustified.

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Moti Mizrahi
Florida Institute of Technology

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