Monday, April 3, 2017

Kleptomaniacal ethicists

There is often an appeal to "Trust the experts." But as Juvenal asked, who guards the guardians? Are the experts trustworthy? Eric Schwitzgebel in Do Ethicists Steal More Books? provides evidence suggesting that experts are not to be trusted. If you can't trust ethicists to not steal books on ethics, who can you trust? From the abstract:
If explicit cognition about morality promotes moral behavior then one might expect ethics professors to behave particularly well. However, professional ethicists’ behavior has never been empirically studied. The present research examined the rates at which ethics books are missing from leading academic libraries, compared to other philosophy books similar in age and popularity. Study 1 found that relatively obscure, contemporary ethics books of the sort likely to be borrowed mainly by professors and advanced students of philosophy were actually about 50% more likely to be missing than non-ethics books. Study 2 found that classic (pre-1900) ethics books were about twice as likely to be missing.

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