Episode 53: Recognising expertise Part 1 - What makes an expert? With Dr Carlo Martini


Welcome to another episode of The Words Matter Podcast.

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In this episode I’m speaking with Dr Carlo Martini. Carlo is Associate Professor of Philosophy of Science in the Faculty of Philosophy at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (UniSR) in Milan and Visiting Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Philosophy of Social Science ( at the University of Helsinki.

His primary research interests are in philosophy of the social sciences, social epistemology and science communication. Carlo works on the role of expertise in knowledge transfer from science to policy, on scientific disinformation and public trust in scientific experts. See Carlo's work on the epistemology of expertise here.

Carlo is currently leader of the work package Behavioral Tools for Building Trust in the H2020 Project Peritia (Policy Expertise and Trust). We speak about Carlo’s work on the Peritia project in part 2.

So in this episode we speak about:

  • The nature of expertise and the different conceptions of it.
  • We distinguish between genuine and bogus or pseudo expertise.
  • We talk about some of the attributes of expertise and that expertise is more than just knowledge acquisition or hours of practice or years of experience in a particular field.
  • We talk about the purpose and function of expertise, and if experts don’t get better outcomes then what’s the point?
  • We talk about the role of tacit knowledge and distinguish between knowing that and knowing how.
  • We talk about how we recognise expertise, how it is perceived and whether or not expertise is just in the eye of the beholder?
  • Expert judgement and models of decision-making, and we situate this in the context of evidence based practice.
  • We talk about Carlo’s collaboration with the CauseHealth project and he links expertise with the adoption of person-centred care and we allude situations when more practitioner-led care might be the more person-centred approach to take. And now is a good time to point you towards the phenomenal CauseHealth Series of 16 episodes involving conversations with the author of each chapter of the excellent CauseHealth book. 
  • Finally we question the notion of ‘patient as expert’ and we both reflect on a paper written by the colleague of mine Prof. Stephen Tyreman who wrote a paper also critically evaluating the notion of patient as expert (see paper here). It deserves to be restated that the CauseHealth Series was dedicated in memory of Stephen owing to the significant contribution and impact he had on CauseHealth and colleagues and students alike.

This was a brilliant conversation with Carlo, which brought together several areas which the podcast has explored  (eg EBM, CauseHealth, Knowledge and philosophy in practice) to get a handle on what expertise is and the implications for the conceptions that we arrive at.

In part 2 we talk about the public perception and confidence in expertise. 

Find Carlo on Twitter @MartiniCarlo

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