Trust, Expert Opinion and Policy

August 31-September 2, 2017

Trust, Expert Opinion and Policy

A multidisciplinary conference investigating questions of trust in and thetrustworthiness of expert opinion

O’Brien Science Centre University College Dublin August 31-September 2, 2017

The conference is organised by Professor Maria Baghramian (School of Philosophy, University College Dublin) and Professor Luke Drury (School of Cosmic Physics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) as part of their Irish Research Council Project

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Conference Theme

Trust is the glue that binds our social interactions. Much of our social life, particularly in technologically advanced societies, is made possible through multi-level divisions of cognitive labour. Such divisions, in turn, lead to reliance, on part of both individuals and policy makers, on the testimony of trained experts in various fields. Indeed, a high level of trust in expert opinion is necessary for the effectiveness of this division of cognitive labour, even if such trust can never be unquestioning. A marked feature of recent political upheavals in Europe and the US is a breakdown of trust in experts. The conference aims to contribute to the understanding of the nature of trust and its connections with the trustworthiness of experts.

The conference explores the following topics

  • The nature and appropriate scope of epistemic trust
  • Sources and conditions of trust and trustworthiness
  • The question of trust in economics
  • The role of trust in science
  • The question of trust in climate science
  • The breakdown of trust in expert opinion and its impact
  • The rationality of trust and its limits
  • The ethics of trust
  • The role of media
  • Trusting people vs. trusting institutions

Key Note Speakers

  • Onora O’Neill (University of Cambridge, Philosophy)
  • Susan Owens (University of Cambridge, Environment and Policy)
  • Patrick Honohan (Trinity College Dublin, Economics)

Invited Panel Speakers

  • Steve Rayner, (University of Oxford, Anthropology)
  • Gloria Origgi (Institut Jean Nicod, Philosophy)
  • Etienne Parizot (Paris Diderot University, Astrophysics)
  • W.G. van der Meer (University of Amsterdam, Politics)
  • Judith Simon (University of Hamburg, Philosophy)
  • Adam Carter (Glasgow, Philosophy)
  • Wendy Parker (University of Durham, Philosophy, Climate Policy)
  • Rafael Alves Batista (University of Oxford, Astrophysics)
  • Attracta Ingram (University College Dublin, Political Theory)
  • ​Don Ross (University College Cork, Economics, Philosophy)
  • Imelda Maher (University College Dublin, Law)
  • Shane Bergin (University College Dublin, Science Education)
  • Rory O’Donnell (National Economic and Social Council, Ireland)

Panels on

  • Trust in the Public Sphere
  • The Epistemology of Trust
  • Trust in Science
  • Trust, Climate Change, and Policy

Parallel Sessions on:

  • The Nature of Trust
  • Trust, Experts, and Disagreement
  • The Perils of Expertise
  • Trust in Economics
  • Trust in Medicine
  • Trust, Policy-Making and the Political Sphere
  • Trust, Public Discourse and Ethics
  • Trust in Medical Science


This conference is supported by Meet in Ireland.

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