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Logical Form: According to person 1, who is an expert on the issue of Y, Y is true. Example 1: Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and perhaps the foremost expert in the field, says that evolution is true. Example 2: How do I know the adult film industry is the third largest industry in the United States?

References: Hume, D.

You've GOT to Read This Book! LP: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That ...

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Courier Corporation. Registered User Comments. Tuesday, June 25, - AM I just got linked here in a reddit discussion. And this is a rather awful description of this fallacy. The ad verecundiam fallacy concerns appeals to authority or expertise. Fundamentally, the fallacy involves accepting as evidence for a proposition the pronouncement of someone who is taken to be an authority but is not really an authority.

This can happen when non-experts parade as experts in fields in which they have no special competence—when, for example, celebrities endorse commercial products or social movements. See also 2. It's somewhat mean to say this, but I feel like given the irony here it's fitting: Someone with two online degrees in Social Psychology isn't really an expert in philosophy. So that you're putting on this website seemingly expert advice, though you're not, and then get the very fallacy about expertise wrong is just a little too on the nose not to call out.

Bo Bennett, PhD. Thanks again for your feedback. Tuesday, June 25, - AM Based on that definition, people will engage in endless debates on who is or is not an authority what what matters is the truth of the claim. It is not fallacious to take the medical advice of your doctor not because he is an authority; it is because WHY he's an authority. Climate change is not real because Bill Nye the Science Guy says so, but because there is a overwhelming evidence for it.

I strongly disagree with the SEP definition on this fallacy. They even admit that this is not the original definition as Locke first stated it see the section 2. SEP makes an attempt to reconcile the reasonableness with legitimate expert advice with the problem of accepting everything as true based only on the credibility of the source, but in doing so turns the focus on the authority rather than the evidence for the claim. This is the problem. Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else. There are countless situations where authorities are divided on issues and simply saying something is true because person X said so and the person X is a authority is fallacious.

Further, asserting that authority is the right one is a game that both sides can play.


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  • Experts or authorities on issues can be wrong on those issues; they are just more likely to be right than non-experts or authorities. As for your "concern" on my education and expertise, I don't think you are mean, just not aware of the facts. First, a PhD literally means "doctorate of philosophy. Second, fallacies are multi-disciplinary and strongly intertwined with psychology.

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    The reason my book does extremely well is because I bring this understanding to fallacies where those who are not aware of the psychological aspect of fallacies and reasoning do not. If that doesn't make me an expert or authority on logical fallacies in your view, then what is ironic is that demonstrates precisely why appeals to authority cannot be simply claiming that they don't agree someone is an authority or not.

    Thank you for your comment, and I hope that my response made the problem with the SEP definition more clear. So in light of the way you approach this I'm going to stick with the pseudonymous moniker and not say anything about my credentials since that is something you're pointing out to be irrelevant when something is in dispute.

    Ok, so with that, here is a reason to think that even when making arguments appealing to experts is not fallacious at all. And this, in part, leads to a principle about the rational attitude of statements by experts like that of Adam Elga's equal weights view: Equal weight view: Upon finding out that an advisor disagrees, your probability that you are right should equal your prior conditional probability that you would be right. Prior to what? Prior to your thinking through the disputed issue, and finding out what the advisor thinks of it. Conditional on what?

    On whatever you have learned about the circumstances of the disagreement. If your other evidence is not indicating anything one way or the other, these likely should be roughly the same.

    But if they are an expert to any degree, then your prior credence of them being right should be at least some degree greater than. For example, if you're undecided on some proposition Q and sit at credence. And on a Bayesian understanding of what evidence is, if getting something as evidence rationally raises your credence in a proposition, then it is evidence for that proposition.

    Hence, expert testimony is almost always good evidence, so I don't see how it would be rational to maintain a steady credence in the face of expert testimony. The only way to not get this result is to say that the testimony of experts is literally never evidence, which is to say that there is no such thing as an expert.


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    • But of course, that doesn't allow for any kind of rational or cognitive division of labor at all and would mean that you are no more likely to say true things about social psychology now after getting a PhD then you were before you even knew what social psychology was.