Skip to content

Toggle service links

Authority in public deliberation: An argumentation approach
Dr Marcin Lewinski Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and t

This event took place on 28th November 2022 at 11:30am (11:30 GMT)
Knowledge Media Institute, Berrill Building, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, MK7 6AA

Nearly all cases of deliberation – from private consumer decisions to complex public policies – rely on the authority of some external experts who advise, recommend, or warn us to do φ rather than ψ. We need such experts, as we cannot ourselves be experts on all the things we decide on. The question to be addressed in this talk is how to evaluate experts’ authority in an applicable way. While this is a complex issue discussed in depth in social epistemology and political theory, I will turn to argumentation theory as a discipline that provides practical solutions to this question. To this end, I will first identify challenges and paradoxes of relying on authority and its various forms discussed in the literature. I will then discuss various ways to schematise arguments from authority / from expert opinion in argumentation theory. Based on this overview, I will propose a novel approach that distinguishes between arguments from experts’ authority and arguments to experts’ authority. I will conclude by arguing that this rearranged structure allows us to understand and critique authority in public deliberation in a way that is apt for computational modelling.


Most recent references:

Lewinski,M.(2022).Challenging authority with argumentation: The pragmatics of aguments from and to authority. Languages, 7(3), 207,

Zenker, F., & Yu, S. (2022). Authority argument schemes, types, and critical questions. Argumentation, online first,

The webcast was open to 300 users
Creative Commons Licence KMi logo