The Explanatory Value of Cognitive Asymmetries in Policy Controversies

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Citing an epistemic or cognitive asymmetry between experts and the public, it is easy to view the relation between scientists and citizens as primarily based on trust, rather than on the content of expert argumentation. In criticism of this claim, four theses are defended: (1) Empirical studies suggest that content matters, while trust(worthiness) boasts persuasiveness. (2) In social policy controversies, genuine expert-solutions are normally not available; if trust is important here, then a clear role for cognitive asymmetry is wanting. (3) Social policy controversies pivot on values, so that biases and ideologies may explain participant behavior. (4) Few experts communicate perfectly; rather than cognitive ones, one might cite social differences
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBetween Scientists and Citizens
EditorsGoodwin Jean
PublisherGreat Plains Society for the Study of Argumentation
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-1478152347
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventBetween Scientists and Citizens - Ames, Iowa, United States
Duration: 2012 Jun 1 → …


ConferenceBetween Scientists and Citizens
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAmes, Iowa
Period2012/06/01 → …

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy


  • ad hominem
  • ad verecundiam
  • deficit model
  • ethos
  • expert
  • lay audience
  • logos
  • trust
  • values


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