Paper Title

[1.2] The Novice 2/Expert's Epistemic Injustice Problem

Location

IB 1014

Start Date

January 2020

End Date

January 2020

Disciplines

History | Philosophy | Political Science

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Judges routinely determine the credibility of testimony given by expert witnesses. A recent decision by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench facilitates considerations of the epistemic and moral dimensions of judicial determinations of credibility. In R v Stephan, Justice Clackson was tasked with determining if David and Collett Stephan failed to provide the necessaries of life to their son, Ezekiel. Doing so required determining which of two qualified medical examiners testimony accurately accounted for Ezekiel’s death. After issuing his decision, objections were made expressing concern that Justice Clackson erred his evaluation of expert witness testimony. A complaint registered with the Canadian Judicial Council alleges that diction and speech mannerism influenced Justice Clackson in weighing the evidence and endorsing the account Dr Sauvauge over Dr Adeagbo. Through this case study, I will explicate the assessment processes available to non-experts, in this case, the judge, when they are confronted with conflicting testimony by experts and required to endorse the testimony of one over the other. The problem, identified by Alvin Goldman as “novice/2 expert problem”, poses a challenge in determining the credibility of an expert from an epistemically deficient position. This paper demonstrates a critical problem with components of Goldman’s solution to the novice/2 expert problem, chiefly, the use of working indicator properties that are performative or that replicate the qualities of the powerful. I contend that Goldman’s inclusion of indirect argumentative justification, that is, use of non-reason-based factors as indicators of expertise, may allow for epistemic injustice. Consequently, determining credibility between rival experts based on indirect argumentative justification may be corrupted by working indicator properties infused with social and political power relations and norms of credibility.

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Jan 18th, 2:30 PM Jan 18th, 4:00 PM

[1.2] The Novice 2/Expert's Epistemic Injustice Problem

IB 1014

Judges routinely determine the credibility of testimony given by expert witnesses. A recent decision by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench facilitates considerations of the epistemic and moral dimensions of judicial determinations of credibility. In R v Stephan, Justice Clackson was tasked with determining if David and Collett Stephan failed to provide the necessaries of life to their son, Ezekiel. Doing so required determining which of two qualified medical examiners testimony accurately accounted for Ezekiel’s death. After issuing his decision, objections were made expressing concern that Justice Clackson erred his evaluation of expert witness testimony. A complaint registered with the Canadian Judicial Council alleges that diction and speech mannerism influenced Justice Clackson in weighing the evidence and endorsing the account Dr Sauvauge over Dr Adeagbo. Through this case study, I will explicate the assessment processes available to non-experts, in this case, the judge, when they are confronted with conflicting testimony by experts and required to endorse the testimony of one over the other. The problem, identified by Alvin Goldman as “novice/2 expert problem”, poses a challenge in determining the credibility of an expert from an epistemically deficient position. This paper demonstrates a critical problem with components of Goldman’s solution to the novice/2 expert problem, chiefly, the use of working indicator properties that are performative or that replicate the qualities of the powerful. I contend that Goldman’s inclusion of indirect argumentative justification, that is, use of non-reason-based factors as indicators of expertise, may allow for epistemic injustice. Consequently, determining credibility between rival experts based on indirect argumentative justification may be corrupted by working indicator properties infused with social and political power relations and norms of credibility.