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Understanding Expertise

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It is sometimes said that experts know and decide ‘in the moment’, not by theoretical or propositionally articulated reflection. What differentiates expert from novice is not that the former know a lot more than the latter, but that their knowledge and the way they use it is qualitatively different. Although this idea is common in the education literature, especially the literature on professional education, it has received little sustained philosophical treatment. I shall argue that the idea of a distinct expert epistemology is not warranted. I argue that what differentiates the epistemic standpoint of experts is not what or how they know, let alone how they deploy knowledge in decision-making, but their capacity for learning. This capacity for learning is plausibly a function of their epistemic station broadly conceived, in particular the nature of their capacities for attention.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Michael Luntley, Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK., Email:

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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