Against ‘instantaneous’ expertise

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 17 (1):1-6 (2022)
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Background Healthcare is predicated on the use of biotechnology and medical technology, both of which are indispensable in diagnosis, treatment, and most aspects of patient care. It is therefore imperative that justifications for use of new technologies are appropriate, with the technologies working as advertised. In this paper, I consider philosophical accounts of how such justifications are made. Methods Critical philosophical reflection and analysis. Results I propose that justification in many prominent accounts is based on the designer’s professional experience and on expert testimony. I argue, however, that professional designers are not in a position to justify a new biotechnology or medical device if the justification is based on testimony or past experience of presumably similar technologies. I argue (1) that similarity judgments offered by instantaneous experts cannot be viewed as contributing (epistemically) to evidential justification of new and unproven technologies; and (2) that designers and manufacturers cannot endorse a technology’s effective function in a patient-care context until it has been successfully used in that context. Conclusion I show that an expert’s past professional experiences can never predict or justify the impact of a novel technology on human health. This is because any new technology leads to the introduction of new mechanisms with unprecedented functions. The new technology therefore needs to be studied in situ and justified as a newly created mechanism within the relevant healthcare setting. Ultimately, justifications of this type rely on the scientific community and society engaging in repeated experimentation and observation of the technology, and confirming its successful use.

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Nicomachean ethics. Aristotle - 1999 - New York: Clarendon Press. Edited by Michael Pakaluk. Translated by Michael Pakaluk.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl Popper - 1959 - Studia Logica 9:262-265.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.K. Popper - 1959 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10 (37):55-57.

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