▲2. It would probably be a mistake to consider any of the individuals on this list more expert
than the others, although different kinds and different levels of bias are fairly predictable on
the parts of the victim’s father, the NRA representative, and possibly the police chief. The
senator might be expected to have access to more data that are relevant to the issue, but that
would not in itself make his or her credibility much greater than that of the others. The
problem here is that we are dealing with a value judgment that depends very heavily upon an
individual’s point of view rather than his or her expertise. What is important to this question is
less the credibility of the person who gives us an answer than the strength of the supporting
argument, if any, that he or she provides.
▲3. Although problem 2 hinges on a value judgment, this one calls for an interpretation of the
original intent of a constitutional amendment. Here, our choices would be either the Supreme
Court justice or the constitutional historian, with a slight preference for the latter because
Supreme Court justices are concerned more with constitutional issues as they have been
interpreted by other courts than with original intent.
(And Supreme Court Justices are not the
most reliable historians of the court.)
The NRA representative is paid to speak for a certain
point of view and would be the least credible, in our view. The senator and the U.S. president
would fall somewhere in between: Both reasonably might be expected to be knowledgeable
about constitutional issues but much less so than our first two choices.
We’d put the NIH and the
New England Journal of Medicine
at the top of our list.
magazine, if it is reporting on a scientific study, is likely to be next most reliable.
to be less able to do fact-checking than
, but we’d pay them some mind.
Your physician could fit anywhere after the first two on the list depending on how much
evidence we had that he or she kept up on the science on this subject.
Notice that this is not a biological question.
If it were, a physician would be best at answering
Similarly, if it were a legal question, we’d trust the lawyer.
But this is a philosophical
question, and we’d put the philosopher at the top of the list.
The minister is very likely to
have theological prejudice on the issue, so we’d count him as probably biased.
You’ll have to
decide where you fall on the list.
(If you thought that
are the most credible source, then
you probably assume that the question is purely subjective.
This assumption is not warranted;
it is one that bears some examination, and for guidance in that examination we’d find it
reasonable to turn to a philosopher.)
▲1. Professor St. Germaine would possess the greatest degree of credibility and authority on (d),
(f), and(h), and, compared with someone who had not lived in both places, on (i).