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The rightful place of expertise

Grundmann, Reiner


Professor of Science & Technology Studies


Expertise has come under attack not least since the Brexit vote in the UK and Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. In this contribution, I will provide some conceptual clarification and suggest a new topology of expertise. I will also examine the historical roots of this challenge to expertise and its social context using a comparative lens. I will ask what it could mean to speak of the rightful place of expertise. I will try to provide an answer by looking more closely at different types of expertise. Expertise, it seems, has been used as an umbrella term for a variety of different knowledge-related activities. I will show that the role of the expert has to be differentiated from the role of the scientist, but also from the role of the specialist. Specialists have different tasks in comparison to experts which need to be emphasized. My argument will draw on the social and historical context of the critique of expertise, and discuss the challenge to the social sciences, especially STS. I will also relate different kinds of expertise to different kinds of problems which can be labelled ‘tame’ and ‘wicked’.


Grundmann, R. (2018). The rightful place of expertise. Social Epistemology, 32(6), 372-386.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 16, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 29, 2018
Publication Date Dec 2, 2018
Deposit Date Dec 5, 2018
Journal Social Epistemology
Print ISSN 0269-1728
Electronic ISSN 1464-5297
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 6
Pages 372-386
Keywords Philosophy; General Social Sciences
Public URL
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