British Academy 7 (2019)

Authors
Ursula Coope
Oxford University
Abstract
People generally agree that there is something valuable about thinking for oneself rather than simply accepting beliefs on authority, but it is not at all obvious why this is valuable. This paper discusses two ancient responses, both inspired by the example of Socrates. Cicero claims that thinking for yourself gives you freedom. Olympiodorus argues that thinking for yourself makes it possible to achieve understanding, and that understanding is valuable because it gives you a certain kind of independence. The paper asks how insights from these thinkers might bear on a question about the role of experts in a democracy. As citizens, we make judgements about many matters that fall within the domain of some expertise. Should thinking for oneself play an important role in such cases, or must the responsible citizen simply defer to expert authority?
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References found in this work BETA

Understanding Why.Alison Hills - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):661-688.
Understanding Why.Alison Hills - 2016 - Noûs 50 (4):661-688.

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