Argumentation

, 25:355

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

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 hominem Ad verecundiam Personal attack Argument from expert opinion Expertise Context Bias Heuristics Conflict of interest 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Cognitive ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Helsinki Collegium for Advanced StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations