The Appeal to Expert Opinion: Quantitative Support for a Bayesian Network Approach.
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The appeal to expert opinion is an argument form that uses the verdict of an expert to support a position or hypothesis. A previous scheme-based treatment of the argument form is formalized within a Bayesian network that is able to capture the critical aspects of the argument form, including the central considerations of the expert's expertise and trustworthiness. We propose this as an appropriate normative framework for the argument form, enabling the development and testing of quantitative predictions as to how people evaluate this argument, suggesting that such an approach might be beneficial to argumentation research generally. We subsequently present two experiments as an example of the potential for future research in this vein, demonstrating that participants' quantitative ratings of the convincingness of a proposition that has been supported with an appeal to expert opinion were broadly consistent with the predictions of the Bayesian model.