Argumentation

, 25:355

Experts and Bias: When is the Interest-Based Objection to Expert Argumentation Sound?

Authors

    • Department of Philosophy and Cognitive ScienceLund University
    • Helsinki Collegium for Advanced StudiesUniversity of Helsinki
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10503-011-9226-7

Cite this article as:
Zenker, F. Argumentation (2011) 25: 355. doi:10.1007/s10503-011-9226-7

Abstract

I discuss under what conditions the objection that an expert’s argument is biased by her self-interest can be a meaningful and sound argumentative move. I suggest replacing the idea of bias qua self-interest by that of a conflict of interests, exploit the distinction between an expert context and a public context, and hold that the objection can be meaningful. Yet, the evaluation is overall negative, because the motivational role of self-interest for human behavior remains unclear. Moreover, if recent social-psychological results from the “heuristics and biases” program are accepted, it is plausible to assume that humans also satisfice (rather than optimize/maximize) when identifying and then acting in their self-interest. My thesis is: insofar as the objection is sound with a particular audience, it is not needed; and insofar as the objection is needed, it is unsound.

Keywords

Circumstantial ad hominemAd verecundiamPersonal attackArgument from expert opinionExpertiseContextBiasHeuristicsConflict of interest

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011