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Rethinking moral expertise

Priaulx, Nicolette ORCID:, Weinel, Martin and Wrigley, Anthony 2016. Rethinking moral expertise. Health Care Analysis 24 (4) , pp. 393-406. 10.1007/s10728-014-0282-7

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We argue that the way in which the concept of expertise is understood and invoked has prevented progress in the debate as to whether moral philosophers can be said to be ‘moral experts’. We offer an account of expertise that draws on the role of tacit knowledge in order to provide a basis upon which the debate can progress. Our analysis consists of three parts. In the first part we highlight two specific problems in the way that the concept of expertise has been invoked in the moral expertise debate, namely the understanding of expertise as an exclusive concept and the conflation of expertise with the idea of ‘authority’. In the second part we suggest an alternative way of approaching the concept of expertise. This is based on Collins and Evans’ sociological theory of expertises. This theory provides a valuable analytical framework for thinking about claims to expertise and for drawing the kinds of distinctions which allow for different kinds of moral expertises and competencies. In the final part, we show how the application of this theory helps to avoid some of the problematic conclusions which theorists have arrived at to date and provides a common platform for debate. Ultimately, it permits the argument to be made that moral philosophers could be considered specialist members of an expert community of moral decision-makers.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Centre for the Study of Knowledge Expertise and Science (KES)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Uncontrolled Keywords: Moral expertise; bioethics; moral philosophers; laypersons; Sociology of expertise; tacit knowledge.
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 1065-3058
Date of Acceptance: 29 July 2014
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 02:17

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