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The Legitimacy of Pseudo‐Expert Discourse in the Public Sphere

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This article examines the role of expertise in public debate, specifically the ways in which expertise can be mimicked and deployed as “pseudo‐expert discourse” to generate legitimacy for views that have otherwise been discredited. The article argues that pseudo‐expert discourse having a clear public health or safety impact should be regulated. There have been some attempts to legally regulate this speech through various means; however, these attempts at regulation have been met with fierce resistance, because of free‐speech concerns. The article suggests that these appeals to free speech in the context of pseudo‐expert discourse are both misguided and misplaced. Moreover, because speakers with the relevant expertise or perceived expertise are able to secure uptake of their views, they have a moral responsibility to not deceive or mislead audiences, and may also have various legal responsibilities.
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Keywords: expertise; free speech; harm; pseudo‐expert discourse; regulation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2017-04-01

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