Results for: Crisis of Expertise

The Crisis of Expertise

  • Course Level:
  • Department: MAPSS
  • Year: 2021-22
  • Term: Spring
  • KNOW 36077
  • Tal Arbel

In recent years, there has been intensive talk about an unfolding “crisis of expertise” in liberal-democratic societies. Along with attacks on the credibility of scientific knowledge, technical experts are seen as detached elites whose impartiality is questionable and whose motivations can no longer be trusted. As British MP Michael Gove stated just before the Brexit referendum: “the people of this country have had enough of experts.” The COVID-19 pandemic poses a particularly difficult challenge to the authority of scientists, doctors and other experts, and has raised tough questions about the place of expertise in our lives. What are the consequences of deferring to experts in political decision-making and policy design? Does this leave room for other priorities? For different views of health and wellbeing? Who has the right to assess risks and calculate costs? This course examines the historical roots of our expert culture and deals with the causes and processes that led to the loss of public trust in professional advice as it manifests itself in phenomena such as resistance to vaccines, climate change denial, and dismissive treatment of economists and other fiscal experts. This course fulfills the elective requirement for a new MAPSS concentration on the Formation of Knowledge https://sifk.uchicago.edu/mapss/.