, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 371-384
Date: 26 Jul 2011

Expertise as Argument: Authority, Democracy, and Problem-Solving

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Abstract

This article addresses the problem of expertise in a democratic political system: the tension between the authority of expertise and the democratic values that guide political life. We argue that for certain problems, expertise needs to be understood as a dialogical process, and we conceptualize an understanding of expertise through and as argument that positions expertise as constituted by and a function of democratic values and practices, rather than in the possession of, acquisition of, or relationship to epistemic materials. Conceptualizing expertise through argument leads us to see expertise as a kind of phronetic practice, oriented toward judgments and problems, characterized by its ability to provide inventional capacities for selecting the best possible resolution of a particular problem vis-à-vis particular expectations regarding the resolution of a problem. At its core, expertise thus comes to exist in reference not to epistemic but to dialogical, deliberative, democratic practice.