The chapter details how authority fallacy is usually misused nowadays. Authority fallacy comes when someone has the power to decide certain matters over others. The matters where authority fallacy is applied exceed the scope of the one in which it is applied. It can be noted that the statement “because I say so” can only be applicable when an individual is an expert kind of authority. The chapter illustrates that someone’s opinion can only be true if the person is an expert or an authority on the topic. Appealing to the opinion of such an authority to support certain views is evidently satisfactory.
The chapter demonstrates that authority fallacy occurs when the first literal type of authority, an individual with the power to make certain decisions, is confounded with the second metaphorical type of authority, whereby someone is an expert and therefore is likely to be right about the matter. The chapter outlines that in democracy, citizens have the ultimate political authority. Since democracy relies on the fact that the view of the majority takes the day, the citizens’ opinion is invoked by politicians who seek support for their ideas.
It is, however, important to note from the chapter that when people decide the matter, it does not mean that they are right. Public opinion can sometimes choose the inferior policy. This means that if popular opinion is always correct, then politicians elected democratically by the majority would have no serious leadership role to play.
Matters of opinion have been clearly explained in this chapter. Under this sub-topic, it can be noted that facts do not depend on opinions about them. The goodness or badness of something is a matter of opinion, because there is really nothing to rely on when speaking about anyone’s opinions. Indeed, from the reading, it can be noted that the matter of opinion signals the lack of a clear standard and no real disagreements with the exception of meaning of words.
When victims of certain tragedies give infallible opinion of the people, here we can observe authority fallacy at work. When the people harmed are approached to help in policy formation, there is a genuine concern for the victims; however, the chapter says that suffering does not mean expertise.
Celebrities have been approached occasionally to give opinion on matters such as politics, economics, international relations, and other topics related to politics. The chapter, however, explains that celebrities do not have more expertise regarding such matters than any other random citizen. It is therefore important to note that political endorsements of celebrities are the authority fallacy on stilts.
Application of what is Learned
The chapters can help someone to decide whether a person is a qualified authority when giving opinion by ensuring that he or she fully understands what revolves around authority fallacy and matters of opinion. Also,the chapter gives insights of spotting authority fallacy. People should ask if the opinion given by a celebrity or a politician in this sense is indeed a matter to be relied on. If someone is an expert in a matter, people should ask for the case to be made explicitly rather then merely taking his or her word for it. It should be learned that an individual’s opinion itself is not an evidence. From the chapter, it can be noted that an argument from authority is an argument with an arguer citing the authority thus supporting some conclusion.
Becoming a More Critical Thinker
The chapter assists the learners to become critical thinkers through creating an understanding that individuals who are regarded as authorities in certain areas or experts are not created equal. It therefore enables people to analyze opinions knowing that some people are smart, others are stupid, some are well-trained in their field, some are more or less honest, and finally, others are pretty much untrustworthy. With these categories of people in mind, one becomes a critical thinker when making judgments about believability on opinions.