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Social Epistemology masterclass

The Department of Theoretical Philosophy hosts a masterclass on Social Epistemology including a keynote lecture by Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern) on 7-8 December. The event is organized in cooperation with the Dutch research school in philosophy OZSW. The course is open to all, but PhD students, postdocs and early-career scholars are especially invited to attend. It precedes the yearly conference of the Dutch research school in philosophy OZSW on 9-10 December. Further information can be found below, and on the OZSW website. Next to Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern), lectures will be given by staff members from the University of Groningen: Allard Tamminga, Andreas Schmidt, Chiara Lisciandra, Leah Henderson, Marc Pauly, Catarina Dutilh Novaes, and Jan-Willem Romeijn.


You can register for this event via the OZSW. The number of places is limited so please reserve soon.


Faculty of Philosophy, room Aquarium / Beta / Omega, December 7-8, 2016

Wednesday 7/12 Thursday 8/12
9:30 Introduction 9:45 Lecture 4: Henderson
9:45 Lecture 1: Romeijn 11:15 Lecture 5: Schmidt
11:15 Lecture 2: Pauly 12:45 Lunch
12:45 Lunch 13:30 Lecture 6: Lisciandra
13:30 Lecture 3: Tamminga 15:00 Lecture 7: Dutilh-Novaes
15:15 TF colloquium with Jennifer Lackey 16:30 Drinks
17:30 Drinks and dinner

Abstracts (in order of appearance)

Jan-Willem Romeijn "Collective decision making"

Crowds are presumably wise, in the sense that they take better decisions than separate individuals. On the other hand, crowds are prone to groupthink and even mass hysteria. How can we avoid these problematic epistemic characteristics of a crowd and benefit from its wisdom?

Marc Pauly "A Framework for Ontological Policy Reconstruction"

In this lecture I will develop a framework for analyzing the ontology underlying a given public policy, i.e. the categories and concepts used by the policy. The framework is applied to particular cases to suggest the usefulness of the framework in the design and normative evaluation of public policy.

Allard Tamminga "Collective obligations, group plans, and individual actions"

If group members aim to fulfill a collective obligation, they must act in such a way that the composition of their individual actions amounts to a group action that fulfills the collective obligation. We characterize the conditions under which a group plan successfully coordinates the group members’ individual actions, and study how the public adoption of a plan changes the context in which individual agents make a decision about what to do.

Jenniferr Lackey "Norms of Credibility"

What is the norm governing our credibility assessments of others? According to Miranda Fricker, the answer is “obvious”: we should match the level of credibility attributed to others to the evidence that they are offering the truth. In this paper, I will show that this evidentialist norm of credibliity assessments is seriously wanting. In particular, I will identify and develop two kinds of testimonial injustice, which I call distributive and normative, and argue that this norm is fundamentally incapable of ruling them out. Finally, I will develop and defend an alternative norms—what I call the Wide Norm of Credibility—that not only avoids the problems afflicting the evidentialist version, but also makes vivid both the relational and normative dimensions of our credibility assessments.

Leah Henderson "Reliability and evidence"

We constantly rely on experts and other sources of information, not all of which are completely reliable. This lecture will discuss how we should take account of the reliability of our sources when we evaluate evidence.

Andreas Schmidt "Rationality and Behavioural Policies"

Behavioural policies try to effect widespread behaviour change through insights from behavioural science. Critics object that such policies treat agents as irrational, as they seem to exploit people's cognitive biases instead of supporting rational agency. Drawing on discussions in psychology and philosophy, I argue against this objection: respecting people as rational actually requires more rather than fewer behavioural policies.

Chiara Lisciandra "Social Epistemology in Interdisciplinary Contexts"

Social epistemology construes knowledge as a collective achievement. In this lecture, we will focus on scientific communities composed of scientists from different disciplines. This reflects the situation of research programmes created for the solution of complex problems, as for instance it is common in cognitive science, nanoscience, system-biology, bioinformatics, etc. While interdisciplinarity is often presented as a good thing, in this course we will reflect on the challenges that it presents. We will focus on the problem of how scientists respond to different epistemic virtues and how they can collaborate while preserving their own epistemic standards.

Catarina Dutilh-Novaes "Argumentation and transfer of epistemic assets"

Epistemically responsible agents must navigate between neither trusting nor mistrusting everything that they are told. Arguably, exchanging reasons for one’s beliefs by means of argumentation is one way in which an agent can ‘screen’ information passed on to her by others. In my talk, I develop the idea that argumentation serves the purpose of transfer of epistemic assets, such that the epistemic autonomy of the agent is preserved while also ensuring the possibility of truly learning from others.

Last modified:27 October 2016 11.02 a.m.