Cognitive islands and runaway echo chambers: problems for epistemic dependence on experts

Synthese (forthcoming)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
I propose to study one problem for epistemic dependence on experts: how to locate experts on what I will call cognitive islands. Cognitive islands are those domains for knowledge in which expertise is required to evaluate other experts. They exist under two conditions: first, that there is no test for expertise available to the inexpert; and second, that the domain is not linked to another domain with such a test. Cognitive islands are the places where we have the fewest resources for evaluating experts, which makes our expert dependences particularly risky. Some have argued that cognitive islands lead to the complete unusability of expert testimony: that anybody who needs expert advice on a cognitive island will be entirely unable to find it. I argue against this radical form of pessimism, but propose a more moderate alternative. I demonstrate that we have some resources for finding experts on cognitive islands, but that cognitive islands leave us vulnerable to an epistemic trap which I will call runaway echo chambers. In a runaway echo chamber, our inexpertise may lead us to pick out bad experts, which will simply reinforce our mistaken beliefs and sensibilities.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
NGUCIA
Revision history
Archival date: 2018-04-11
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Trust and Antitrust.Baier, Annette

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2018-01-23

Total downloads
92 ( #19,681 of 34,476 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
70 ( #4,351 of 34,476 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.