Wednesday, May 29, 2013

[PL 211] Appeals to Bizarro Authority

Arguments from Authority (or appeals to authority) are non-deductive arguments from premises about an expert who asserts that p to a conclusion that p is likely true, probable, or worthy of acceptance. More explicitly:
  1. Expert E says that p.
  2. Therefore, p.
Now, consider arguments from anti-authority or appeals to bizarro authority. Such arguments go as follows:
  1. Non-expert B says that p.
  2. Therefore, not-p.
For example, Axel Meyer argues that "Philosophical Dadaism a la Feyerabend will not help you get your next paper published." In response, Massimo Pigliucci says the following:

In effect, Pigliucci seems to be arguing that Meyer must be wrong because he is not a philosopher. That is:
  1. Non-philosopher Meyer says that p.
  2. Therefore, not-p.
Is this a good argument? Is the appeal to bizarro authority a good form of argument in general? If we accept appeals to authority as good arguments, do we have to accept appeals to bizarro authority as well? 

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