Epistemic deference

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The question of when I should defer to someone who seems to know more than me interests me.

I want to clarify what I mean by “epistemic deference”.

I think it is related to but distinct from the modesty debate.

A modesty proponent would seem to try to average out the views of people around them (maybe weighted by expertise) but a deferential person can just pick a single person to whom to defer. So a deferential person can be “immodest”.

Deference seems to require that one not know the “full story”. For if one knew the full story, then one would be an expert of sorts (arguments screen off authority). But what does the “full story” mean? I think it’s both the reasoning behind the position you take, and also the reasoning behind the positions other people take (so ability to pass an Ideological Turing Test).

A possible analogy might be: picking the winner in a sports competition rather than competing oneself.

See Hanson’s Piper paper.

How does one pick who to defer to? some combination of:

  1. partially checking/vetting the arguments. (e.g. pick a random subset of their argument and go through it more thoroughly than the rest)
  2. Seeing performance in bets/predictions.
  3. seeing performance in other domains (perhaps where the deferrer is an expert)
  4. seeing how other “smart people” defer.