Call for Abstracts: Trust, Expert Opinion and Policy

A multidisciplinary conference investigating questions of trust in and the trustworthiness of expert opinion

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, When Experts Disagree

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 in and the trustworthiness of experts.

The conference will address the topics of:

  • The nature and appropriate scope of epistemic trust
  • The role of testimony and its reliability for trust in experts
  • Sources and conditions of trust and trustworthiness
  • The role of trust within science
  • Trust in science by non-scientists
  • The breakdown of trust in expert opinion and its impact
  • Trust in contested fields of expertise
  • The rationality of trust and its limits
  • The similarity and differences between trusting experts in different fields
  • The nature of expertise and its relation to trust
  • Trust and expertise regarding factual versus evaluative matters
  • Critical approaches to trust in expert opinion.
  • The role of media as an intermediary between experts and the public


Key Note Speakers

  • Onora O’Neill (Cambridge, Philosophy)
  • Patrick Honohan (Trinity College Dublin, Economics)


Invited Speakers include:

  • Steve Rayner, (Oxford, Anthropology)
  • Gloria Origgi (Institut Jean Nicod, Philosophy)
  • Imelda Maher (University College Dublin, Law)
  • Judith Simon (Vienna, Philosophy)
  • Casey Helgeson, (Durham, Climate Policy and Philosophy)
  • Susan Owens (Cambridge, Climate Science)
  • Anna Davies (Trinity College Dublin, Climate Science/Climate Policy)
  • Etienne Parizot (Paris, Astrophysics)
  • Attracta Ingram (University College Dublin, Political Theorist)
  • Tim Palmer (Oxford, Physics, climate science)
  • Rafael Alves Batista (Oxford, Astrophysics)

We welcome papers which address the above issues from a range of fields and disciplines (not limited to): philosophy, natural sciences in general and climate science and astrophysics in particular, cognitive science, sociology, psychology, politics,  and economics.

Abstracts of 500 words, for presentations lasting no longer than 30 minutes, prepared for blind refereeing, to be sent to Maria.Baghramian@ucd.ie by April 15, 2017.

There are plans to publish a selection of the proceedings of the conference.

The conference is funded by the Irish Research Council and UCD Institute for Discovery







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