Ethics Expertise: History, Contemporary Perspectives, and Applications

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Section I examines historical philosophical understandings of expertise in order to situate the current institution of bioethics. Section II focuses on philosophical analyses of the concept of expertise, asking, among other things, how it should be understood, how it can be acquired, and what such expertise warrants. Finally, section III addresses topics in bioethics and how ethics expertise should or should not be brought to bear in these areas, including expertise in the court room, in the hospital room, in the media, and in making policy. 2. A GUIDED HISTORICAL TOUR As Scott LaBarge points out, Plato's dialogues can be viewed as an extended treatment of the concept of moral expertise, so it is fitting to begin the volume with an examination of Socrates and Moral Expertise . Given Socrates' protestations (the Oracle at Delphi notwithstanding) that he knows nothing, LaBarge observes that it would be interesting to determine both what a Socratic theory of moral expertise might be and whether Socrates qualified as such an expert. Plato's model of moral expertise is what LaBarge calls demonstrable expertise , which is concerned mainly with the ability to attain a goal and to explain how one did it. The problem with this account is that when one tries to solve the various problems in the model - for example, allowing that moral expertise is not an all-or-nothing skill - then one is immediately faced with the credentials problem . As LaBarge puts it, ...