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Book workshop with Katherine Furman on her manuscript Going it Alone

When:Fr 20-01-2023 09:30 - 16:00
Where:Faculty of Philosophy, room t.b.c.

Book abstract
It is typically accepted that as laypeople we should defer to the experts on the topics of their expertise. There is a division of epistemic labour in society: no one person can know everything, so we split up the epistemic tasks between us. This is a useful social practice because collectively we can know everything worth knowing, even if no one of us can individually know it all. This is why we have experts – they are simply those who have been allotted the task of knowing certain very specific things on our behalf. If all is going well, we should defer the experts. But what if all is not well?

This is a book about cases where individuals or groups don’t trust the experts.
Cases of (apparent) disagreement within the expert community. Cases of public
suspicion about the values underlying expertise. Cases of public distrust in the
political structures that convert science into policy. How do ordinary people, without advanced scientific training, navigate a terrain of suspicion? When do they resist? And when is resistance appropriate?

Methodologically, this book is an exercise in street-level philosophy. Instead
of starting with abstract, philosophically ideal circumstances, it begins with real
historical cases of people attempting to figure things out for themselves: AIDS
denialism in South Africa in the early 2000s, communities resisting Ebola
interventions in West Africa during the 2013 – 2016 epidemic, and self-trained
American abortionists in the 1960s.

Overall, the argument is that we should not dismiss those who resist the
experts as obvious irrational or irresponsible. Rather, we must pay close attention to the contexts of distrust.

Confirmed commentators
Andreas Schmidt, Jan-Willem Romeijn, Leah Henderson, Lisa Herzog

Please find more information in the document.