Experts and Authorities

Samuel Fleischacker

in Divine Teaching and the Way of the World

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199217366
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728495 | DOI:
Experts and Authorities

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The kind of truth that sacred texts can properly claim is introduced. One kind of plain truth in the cognitive state of nature will not be captured well in scientific theories: plain truths about how to live our lives that are obscure to the listener until he or she starts to carry them out. Even in the state of nature, a wise person might guide someone less wise with a piece of advice that the listener will properly understand—and recognize as reasonable—only after she follows it. Such a person provides a model for a religious authority, who should be distinguished from a scientific expert. And the advice of such a person provides a model for the sort of truth-telling in which sacred texts engage: and suggests that the proper meaning of such texts is always somewhat obscure, and must be constantly re-interpreted as one attempts to live out their prescriptions. These points will be of importance to the account of revelation in Part IV.

Keywords: authority; expert; interpretation; religious authority; nature; truth-telling

Chapter.  5856 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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