Why Arguments from Expert Opinion are Weak Arguments

Informal Logic 33 (1):57-79 (2013)
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Abstract

In this paper, I argue that arguments from expert opinion, i.e., inferences from “Expert E says that p” to “p,” where the truth value of p is unknown, are weak arguments. A weak argument is an argument in which the premises, even if true, provide weak support—or no support at all—for the conclusion. Such arguments from expert opinion are weak arguments unless the fact that an expert says that p makes p significantly more likely to be true. However, research on expertise shows that expert opinions are only slightly more accurate than chance and much less accurate than decision procedures. If this is correct, then it follows that arguments from expert opinion are weak arguments.

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