Neftalí Villanueva on “Purely informative statements and public disagreements”
Who should be trusted as an expert? When should we trust in experts? Public deliberation in contemporary democracies requires fostering trust in experts. Decisions over public policies usually involve taking into account complex information, beyond the level of expertise of most. In this context, being able to engage in factual disagreements where one of the parties is recognized as an expert seems crucial to develop support for research’s public funding, and scientifically-informed policies. Nevertheless, fruitful deliberation also requires being able to resist misinformation campaigns, no matter how widespread these might be; being able, in general, to evaluate the evidence at our disposal and form our own opinions. This can require, in turn, questioning the status of those who present themselves as experts, and their seemingly purely informative claims. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on this apparent tension between epistemic deference and epistemic independence. It has two goals, a specific – argumentative – one, and a much more general one – an invitation to think differently about such questions. The first one aims at providing a more nuanced understanding of the question “who should be trusted as an expert?”, by paying attention to some of the actual contexts in which seemingly factual claims are discussed in public settings. The second line stresses the need to pay attention to the conditions under which we actually trust each other in conversation. Intervention to foster trust in experts could be approached, we suggest, by modifying the conditions under which science communication takes place, rather than aiming at convincing the public that experts must be trusted, or blaming them for not doing so.
Neftalí Villanueva (Universidad de Granada)
To join the session on Zoom, please get in touch with Gloria Andrada de Gregorio at firstname.lastname@example.org for the details.
This event is part of the ArgLab Research Colloquium organised by Maria Grazia Rossi, Giulia Terzian and Gloria Andrada at the Laboratory of Argumentation, Cognition and Language of the NOVA Institute of Philosophy. For any inquiries, please contact Maria Grazia, Giulia, or Gloria.
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