Preemptive Authority: The Challenge From Outrageous Expert Judgment

Episteme (forthcoming)

Thomas Grundmann
University of Cologne
Typically, expert judgments are regarded by laypeople as highly trustworthy. However, expert assertions that strike the layperson as obviously false or outrageous, seem to give one a perfect reason to dispute that this judgment manifests expertise. In this paper, I will defend four claims. First, I will deliver an argument in support of the preemption view on expert judgments according to which we should not rationally use our own domain-specific reasons in the face of expert testimony. Secondly, I will argue that the preemption view does not leave room for rejecting an expert judgment simply because it is outrageous. Thirdly, I will argue that outrageous expert judgments are ambiguous. Whereas some of them should be rationally rejected by laypeople, others are true and rationally acceptable. So, being outrageous is not, in and of itself, a reason to reject the judgment. Finally, I will argue that there are resources available to the preemption view that enable the layperson to reject some but not all outrageous expert judgments. This is sufficient to overcome the challenge from outrageous expert judgments to the preemption view.
Keywords expert  epistemic authority  preemption  undercutting defeat  social evidence
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