This collection addresses whether ethicists, like authorities in other fields, can speak as experts in their subject matter. Though ethics consultation is a growing practice in medical contexts, there remain difficult questions about the role of ethicists in professional decision-making. Contributors examine the nature and plausibility of moral expertise, the relationship between character and expertise, the nature and limits of moral authority, how one might become a moral expert, and the trustworthiness of moral testimony. This volume engages with the growing (...) literature in these debates and offers new perspectives from both academics and practitioners. The readings will be of particular interest to bioethicists, clinicians, ethics committees, and students of social epistemology. These new essays promise to advance discussions in the professionalization and accreditation of ethics consultation. (shrink)
Among social epistemologists, having a certain proportion of reliably formed beliefs in a subject matter is widely regarded as a necessary condition for cognitive expertise. This condition is motivated by the idea that expert testimony puts subjects in a better position than non-expert testimony to obtain knowledge about a subject matter. I offer three arguments showing that veritism is an inadequate account of expert authority because the reliable access condition renders expertise incapable of performing its social role. I then develop (...) an alternative explanation of expert authority that I call the epistemic facility account, arguing that having a certain type of competence in a subject matter or domain of subject matters is sufficient for explaining expert authority while avoiding the problems with veritistic accounts. (shrink)
What does it mean to be an expert? What sort of authority do experts really have? And what role should they play in today's society? Addressing why ever larger segments of society are skeptical of what experts say, Expertise: A Philosophical Introduction reviews contemporary philosophical debates and introduces what an account of expertise needs to accomplish in order to be believed. Drawing on research from philosophers and sociologists, chapters explore widely held accounts of expertise and uncover their limitations, outlining a (...) set of conceptual criteria a successful account of expertise should meet. By providing suggestions for how a philosophy of expertise can inform practical disciplines such as politics, religion, and applied ethics, this timely introduction to a topic of pressing importance reveals what philosophical thinking about expertise can contribute to growing concerns about experts in the 21st century. (shrink)
A common philosophical account of expertise contends that (a) the good of expertise lies in the fact that it is grounded in reliably true beliefs or knowledge in a domain and (b) rejecting this truth-linked view threatens the authority of experts and opens one to epistemic relativism. I argue that both of these claims are implausible, and I show how epistemic authority and objectivity can be grounded in the current state of understanding and skill in a domain. Further, I argue (...) that what I call a ‘cognitive systems’ approach is consistent with this domain-linked account of expert authority, is empirically supported, and provides a philosophical foundation for both empirical and conceptual work on the nature and scope of expertise. (shrink)
A popular critique of the kalām cosmological argument is that one argument for its second premise illicitly assumes a finite starting point for the series of past temporal events, thereby begging the question against opponents. Rejecting this assumption, opponents say, eliminates any objections to the possibility that the past is infinitely old and undermines the IFA’s ability to support premise 2. I contend that the plausibility of this objection depends on ambiguities in extant formulations of the IFA and that we (...) may resolve these ambiguities in a way that does not presuppose a finite staring point. I also argue that this disambiguation allows us to construct an argument demonstrating that the concept of an infinite past entails a contradiction. (shrink)
We respond to Autumn Fiester’s critique that our proposed bioethical consensus project amounts to “ethical hegemony,” and evaluate her claim that ethicists should restrict themselves to “mere process” recommendations. We argue that content recommendations are an inescapable aspect of clinical ethics consultation, and our primary concern is that, without standardization of bioethical consensus, our field will vacillate among appeals to the disparate claims in the 22 “Core References,” unsustainable efforts to defend value-neutral process recommendations, or become a practice of Lone (...) Ranger clinical ethicists. We contend that a consensus document that captures the basic moral commitments of patients and careproviders is the next step in the professional evolution of our field. (shrink)
Albert Casullo (2000, 2003) and Shane Oakley (2011) argue that dilemma arguments against epistemic naturalism, such as those offered by Laurence BonJour (1998) and Harvey Siegel (1984), are such that, whatever strength they have against naturalism applies equally to moderate rationalist accounts of a priori justification. They conclude that dilemma arguments are, therefore, insufficient for establishing an advantage for moderate rationalism over naturalized epistemology. I argue that both Casullo's and Oakley's criticisms depend on an illicit assumption, namely, that dilemma arguments (...) presuppose a meta-justificatory demand that naturalists provide non-circular support for their basic sources of evidence. I argue that this assumption is not necessary for the force of dilemma arguments, and I construct a version that avoids this misreading. I conclude that, although there remain strategies for responding to dilemma arguments, they constitute a challenge naturalists must take seriously. (shrink)
What's Good on TV? Understanding Ethics Through Television presents an introduction to the basic theories and concepts of moral philosophy using concrete examples from classic and contemporary television shows. Utilizes clear examples from popular contemporary and classic television shows, such as The Office, Law and Order, Star Trek and Family Guy, to illustrate complex philosophical concepts Designed to be used as a stand-alone or supplementary introductory ethics text Features case studies, study questions, and suggested readings Episodes mentioned are from a (...) wide variety of television shows, and are easily accessible Offers a balanced treatment of a number of controversial ethical issues including environmental ethics, animal welfare, abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment, assisted suicide, censorship and the erosion of values Includes a companion website at http://whatsgoodontv.webs.com. (shrink)
The world is abuzz with experts who can help us in domains where we understand too little to help ourselves. But sometimes experts in one domain carry their privileged status into domains outside their specialization, where they give advice or otherwise presume to speak authoritatively. Ballantyne calls these boundary crossings “epistemic trespassing” and argues that they often violate epistemic norms. In the few cases where traveling in other domains is permissible, Ballantyne suggests there should be regulative checks for the experts (...) who are crossing domain boundaries. I argue that boundary crossing is warranted more often than Ballantyne allows. And while Ballantyne argues that boundary crossing is prima facie epistemically problematic, I contend that many cases of boundary crossing are not properly instances of “trespassing,” and, therefore, raise no prima facie epistemic concerns. I further argue that identifying cases of what I call “epistemic neighborliness” bolsters Ballantyne’s project, making it easier for novices and other experts to identify epistemic trespassing along with its epistemic problems. (shrink)
Robert Bass argues that the evidential problem of evil can be strengthened by the application of a Bayesian conditionalization argument. I argue that, whatever the merits of Bayesian conditionalization arguments, they are unsuccessful in substantiating the evidential problem of evil because the problem of evil doesn’t meet the necessary conditions for applying the formula informatively. I offer two examples to show that a successful application of the Bayesian formula must pass two tests, the competency test and the connection test. I (...) then show that the problem of evil passes neither, and is therefore not strengthened by the Bayesian analysis. I conclude that Bass’s reformulated argument poses no substantive threat to theism. (shrink)
Epistemic Justification We often believe what we are told by our parents, friends, doctors, and news reporters. We often believe what we see, taste, and smell. We hold beliefs about the past, the present, and the future. Do we have a right to hold any of these beliefs? Are any supported by evidence? Should we … Continue reading Justification, Epistemic →.
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking is the process of using and assessing reasons to evaluate statements, assumptions, and arguments in ordinary situations. The goal of this process is to help us have good beliefs, where “good” means that our beliefs meet certain goals of thought, such as truth, usefulness, or rationality. Critical thinking is widely regarded … Continue reading Critical Thinking →.
We argue that the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities has endorsed a facilitation approach to clinical ethics consultation that asserts that bioethicists can offer moral recommendations that are well-grounded in bioethical consensus. We claim that the closest thing the field currently has to a citable, nationally endorsed bioethical consensus are the 22 Core References used to construct the questions for the Healthcare Ethics Consultant-Certified (HEC-C) exam. We acknowledge that the Core References reflect some important points of bioethical consensus, but (...) note they are unwieldy, repetitive, and sometimes inconsistent on important issues faced by clinical ethicists. In this article, we draw carefully qualified inspiration from the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) to argue for the creation of a concise, nationally endorsed bioethical consensus document on moral issues commonly faced in clinical ethics, what we call the Standardized Ethical Guidelines for Secular Health Care Services (SEGs). We observe that such a document would better meet the expectations of stakeholders, clinical ethicists, and their trainees who desire moral recommendations grounded in a clearly articulated bioethical consensus, and we defend the SEGs from some common objections. (shrink)
In this comprehensive tour of the long history and philosophy of expertise, from ancient Greece to the 20th century, Jamie Carlin Watson tackles the question of expertise and why we can be skeptical of what experts say, making a valuable contribution to contemporary philosophical debates on authority, testimony, disagreement and trust. His review sketches out the ancient origins of the concept, discussing its early association with cunning, skill and authority and covering the sort of training that ancient thinkers believed was (...) required for expertise. Watson looks at the evolution of the expert in the middle ages into a type of "genius" or "innate talent", moving to the role of psychological research in 16th-century Germany, the influence of Darwin, the impact of behaviorism and its interest to computer scientists, and its transformation into the largely cognitive concept psychologists study today. (shrink)
This dissertation is about a priori justification and its relationship to experiential evidence. I begin with the assumption that a priori justification is justification that is independent of experience. It has been argued that putative examples of a priori justification are implausible because they are not, in any significant sense, independent of experience. My two central claims are that (a) a subject is plausibly justified a priori in believing a proposition only if the belief is not revisable on empirical grounds, (...) which I will call the empirical unrevisability thesis; and (b) moderate rationalists can resist four empirical challenges considered by many to be decisive against the empirical unrevisability thesis. I begin by developing an account of experiential evidence that is neutral between rationalists and empiricists in order to make clear the distinction between a priori and a posteriori justification. I then argue that a moderate rationalist account of a priori justification is plausible only if the beliefs justified a priori are empirically unrevisable in a qualified sense. I then argue that four classical objections that putative cases of a priori justification are not independent of experience fail, namely, that they are revisable by some instances of contrary testimony, by mistakes in long proofs and memory, that a paradigm example of a priori knowledge was overturned by new evidence in physics, and that psychological data undermines the reliability of sources of a priori justification. I conclude that there is only one potentially threatening case, derived from neurological malfunction, and I leave the solution to this case to future research. (shrink)
'You shouldn't drink too much. The Earth is round. Milk is good for your bones.' Are any of these claims true? How can you tell? Can you ever be certain you are right? For anyone tackling philosophical logic and critical thinking for the first time, Critical Thinking: An Introduction to Reasoning Well provides a practical guide to the skills required to think critically. From the basics of good reasoning to the difference between claims, evidence and arguments, Robert Arp and Jamie (...) Carlin Watson cover the topics found in an introductory course. Now revised and fully updated, this Second Edition features a glossary, chapter summaries, more student-friendly exercises, study questions, diagrams, and suggestions for further reading. Topics include: the structure, formation, analysis and recognition of arguments deductive validity and soundness inductive strength and cogency inference to the best explanation truth tables tools for argument assessment informal and formal fallacies With real life examples, advice on graduate school entrance exams and an expanded companion website packed with additional exercises, an answer key and help with real life examples, this easy-to-follow introduction is a complete beginner's tool set to good reasoning, analyzing and arguing. Ideal for students in basic reasoning courses and students preparing for graduate school. (shrink)
A significant proportion of the U.S. population exhibits low health literacy. Evidence suggests that low health literacy is correlated with higher medical costs and poorer health outcomes. Even more concerning, evidence suggests that low health literacy threatens patients’ and families’ autonomy and exacerbates injustices in patients who are already vulnerable to difficulties navigating the health care system. There is also, however, increasing evidence that health literacy interventions—including initiatives such as plain language practices and teach-back—improve comprehension and usefulness of health care (...) information. I show how health literacy best practices can enhance the work of clinical ethicists in their primary roles of policy, consultation, and education. In the final section, I suggest ways health literacy initiatives may be enhanced with insights from clinical ethicists. (shrink)
With the development of the Healthcare Ethics Consultant Certification offered through the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, the practice of clinical ethics has taken a decisive step into professionalization. Like other clinical consulting services that have trod this path—chaplaincy, genetic counseling, social work, case management, and so on1—clinical ethics started with academic and fellowship training programs and has identified a set of standards of practice....