Arguments from Expert Opinion and Persistent Bias
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Accounts of arguments from expert opinion take it for granted that expert judgments count as (defeasible) evidence for propositions, and so an argument that proceeds from premises about what an expert judges to a conclusion that the expert is probably right is a strong argument. In Mizrahi (Informal Log 33:57–79, 2013), I consider a potential justification for this assumption, namely, that expert judgments are significantly more likely to be true than novice judgments, and find it wanting because of empirical evidence suggesting that expert judgments under uncertainty are not significantly more likely to be true than novice judgments or even chance. In this paper, I consider another potential justification for this assumption, namely, that expert judgments are not influenced by the cognitive biases novice judgments are influenced by, and find it wanting, too, because of empirical evidence suggesting that experts are vulnerable to pretty much the same cognitive biases that novices are vulnerable to. If this is correct, then the basic assumption at the core of accounts of arguments from expert opinion, namely, that expert judgments count as (defeasible) evidence for propositions, remains unjustified.
KeywordsArguments from expert opinion Cognitive bias Decision heuristics Expert performance Persistent bias
I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers of Argumentation for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
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