The Epistemic Value of Expert Autonomy

Abstract

According to an influential Enlightenment ideal, one shouldn't rely epistemically on other people's say-so, at least not if one is in a position to evaluate the relevant evidence for oneself. However, in much recent work in social epistemology, we are urged to dispense with this ideal, which is seen as stemming from a misguided focus on isolated individuals to the exclusion of groups and communities. In this paper, I argue that that an emphasis on the social nature of inquiry should not lead us to entirely abandon the Enlightenment ideal of epistemically autonomous agents. Specifically, I suggest that it is an appropriate ideal for those who serve as experts in a given epistemic community, and develop a notion of expert acceptance to make sense of this. I go on to show that, all other things being equal, this kind of epistemic autonomy among experts makes their joint testimony more reliable, which in turn brings epistemic benefits both to laypeople and to experts in other fields.

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Author's Profile

Finnur Dellsén
University of Iceland

References found in this work

Elusive Knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
Epistemology of Disagreement: The Good News.David Christensen - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):187-217.
Reflection and Disagreement.Adam Elga - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):478–502.

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Citations of this work

Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Mind 129 (516):1127-1156.
The Epistemic Threat of Deepfakes.Don Fallis - 2020 - Philosophy and Technology 34 (4):623-643.
Why Think for Yourself?Jonathan Matheson - 2022 - Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology:1-19.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

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