Synthese 197 (7):2803-2821 (2020)

Authors
C. Thi Nguyen
University of Utah
Abstract
I propose to study one problem for epistemic dependence on experts: how to locate experts on what I will call cognitive islands. Cognitive islands are those domains for knowledge in which expertise is required to evaluate other experts. They exist under two conditions: first, that there is no test for expertise available to the inexpert; and second, that the domain is not linked to another domain with such a test. Cognitive islands are the places where we have the fewest resources for evaluating experts, which makes our expert dependences particularly risky. Some have argued that cognitive islands lead to the complete unusability of expert testimony: that anybody who needs expert advice on a cognitive island will be entirely unable to find it. I argue against this radical form of pessimism, but propose a more moderate alternative. I demonstrate that we have some resources for finding experts on cognitive islands, but that cognitive islands leave us vulnerable to an epistemic trap which I will call runaway echo chambers. In a runaway echo chamber, our inexpertise may lead us to pick out bad experts, which will simply reinforce our mistaken beliefs and sensibilities.
Keywords Epistemic dependence  Trust  Testimony  Moral testimony  Aesthetic testimony  Echo chambers  Expertise  Expert testimony  Disagreement
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Reprint years 2018, 2020
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-018-1692-0
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References found in this work BETA

The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement.Thomas Kelly - 2005 - In John Hawthorne & Tamar Gendler (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. pp. 167-196.
Trust and Antitrust.Annette Baier - 1986 - Ethics 96 (2):231-260.
Experts: Which Ones Should You Trust?Alvin I. Goldman - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1):85-110.
Expertise and the Fragmentation of Intellectual Autonomy.C. Thi Nguyen - 2018 - Philosophical Inquiries 6 (2):107-124.

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Citations of this work BETA

Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles.C. Thi Nguyen - 2020 - Episteme 17 (2):141-161.
Moral Outrage Porn.C. Thi Nguyen & Bekka Williams - 2020 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 18 (2).
Expertise and the Fragmentation of Intellectual Autonomy.C. Thi Nguyen - 2018 - Philosophical Inquiries 6 (2):107-124.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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Kuhn e a racionalidade da escolha científica.Eros Moreira de Carvalho - 2013 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 17 (3):439-458.
Experts, Evidence, and Epistemic Independence.Ben Almassi - 2007 - Spontaneous Generations 1 (1):58-66.
A Problem About Epistemic Dependence.Tim Oakley - 2006 - In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), Aspects of Knowing. Elsevier Science. pp. 17.
What is an Expert?Bruce D. Weinstein - 1993 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 14 (1).

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