Parrish ’11 Jesse, student commenter on Victor Reppert’s blog Dangerous Idea, devoted to exploring biases in argumentation, August http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2011/08/sltf.html
I think that whenever we are looking to calibrate the effect of evidence on probability, we should rely first and foremost on `public knowledge', but there is theoretical room for differences, including legitimate differences in intuitions. Trivially, my confidence in the contents of a first-hand testimony may be less than the person who is providing the testimony. Is it that I am more of an `outsider' than that person? Is it that I am more `objective'? Not necessarily. Our critical faculties may all be functioning perfectly well, and we may still have legitimate differences in credence. There are cases where we trust `outsiders' more than `insiders', say whenever we are investigating the claims of homeopaths. But this is not an intrinsically objective fact about the epistemic superiority of outsiders; rather, it is that we have known biases to deal with which may be partially controlled for by introducing a skeptical opinion. In the case of homeopathy, these would include placebo affects and confirmation bias. In general, the best `outsider position' is not a particular agent. The best `objective' means of controlling for biases, as employed in the sciences, is "argument amongst friends." Barring decisive argumentation, we give each other a presumption of similar reasonableness and attempt to state the arguments at their strongest. We seek out opposing views to avoid the errors of confirmation bias. We seek to nail down as exactly as we can what is required for the preservation of disagreement or the arrival to consensus. We seek fervently the outlines of our opinions, and find their shortcomings. In other words, we should never assume that we in general have special privileges - epistemic entitlements, if you prefer - over knowledgeable peers.
Side switching does not equate to speaking from nowhere or divesting yourself of social background—our argument is that if your only exposure to the topic is finding ways to critique or avoid it, then you become solely capable of preaching to the choir. Debate is unique because it gives opportunities to tactically inhabit other perspectives without enlisting in those causes for the sake of skill development and mutual testing