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Argumentation

, 25:341 | Cite as

Character and Knowledge: Learning from the Speech of Experts

  • Christopher W. TindaleEmail author
Article

Abstract

This paper discusses the ways in which a person’s character (ethos) and a hearer’s emotional response (pathos) are part of the complex judgments made about experts’ claims, along with an actual assessment of those claims (logos). The analysis is rooted in the work of Aristotle, but expands to consider work on emotion and cognition conducted by Thagard and Gigerenzer. It also draws on some conclusions of the general epistemology of testimony (of which expert testimony is a special subset), where it is argued that we learn not just from the transmission of another’s beliefs, but from the words they speak. This shifts the onus in testimony away from the intentions of a speaker onto the judgments of an audience, capturing better its social character and reflecting our experience of receiving testimony. I conclude, however, that accepting the arguments of experts involves much more than simply believing what they say.

Keywords

Character Cognitive environment Ethos Expert testimony Trust Wakefield case 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and RhetoricUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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