You visit the theatre. The play is not to your liking. Do you:
(A) Leave during the interval, muttering “what a terrible play!”
(B) Arrange for the play to be taken off the theatre circuit, for the cast to lose their jobs, and so on.
(C) Withhold judgement, because you are not a playwright – “sure wouldn’t that sort of judgement be best left to the experts, what would I know?”
I submit that the only reasonable option is something like A.
If you choose B, you suppose not only that your judgement is better than the judgement of others, but also that you have the authority to make decisions on behalf of others.
Choosing C is a mirror-image of that: you suppose that there are other people whose judgement is not just better than that of ordinary people like you, but they have the authority to judge on their – i.e. your – behalf.
Although superficially B and C look like mirror-images, they commit the same error – a type of informal fallacy called “appeal to authority”. In one case it is your own supposed authority. In the other case it is the supposed authority of an elite. I will call this sort of approach the “bishop-missionary position”, to remind us of where this thoroughly hierarchical and catholic idea comes from. The “bishops” belong to an elite that ordinary folk are expected to look up to, an elite whose opinions are supposed to count for more than ordinary folk’s opinions. “Missionaries” do not embrace the pomp of bishops, but they still expect to be looked up to, because they imagine their own opinions count for more than those of lesser folk – i.e. folk even lesser than ordinary folk. Bishops and missionaries are similar in their contempt for and willingness to override the opinions and wishes of others, but they differ in that bishops tend to stay put and expect ordinary folk to consult them, while missionaries tend to go forth to do their good works.
Do you agree with me that it would be wrong to judge a play in the manner of B or C above? If so, why does nearly everyone judge their own moral opinions in the manner of B, and scientific opinions in the manner of C?