Experts and Bias: When is the Interest-Based Objection to Expert Argumentation Sound?
- Frank ZenkerAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Lund UniversityHelsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki Email author
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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.
KeywordsCircumstantial ad hominem Ad verecundiam Personal attack Argument from expert opinion Expertise Context Bias Heuristics Conflict of interest
- Experts and Bias: When is the Interest-Based Objection to Expert Argumentation Sound?
- Online Date
- July 2011
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Circumstantial ad hominem
- Ad verecundiam
- Personal attack
- Argument from expert opinion
- Conflict of interest
- Industry Sectors
- Frank Zenker (1) (2)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Lund University, Kungshuset, Lundagård, 222 22, Lund, Sweden
- 2. Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 4, 00014, Helsinki, Finland