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O'Brien Centre for Science

University College Dublin

D4 Dublin


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Announcing a Major International Conference on

Trust, Expert Opinion and Policy

A multidisciplinary conference investigating questions of trust in and the trustworthiness 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

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 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)

Programme (subject to change)

Thursday August 31

9.00-9.30 Registration and Welcome

Parallel Session 1. The Nature of Trust

  • 9.30-10.00 Aisling Crean (University of Glasgow) “What do reactive attitudes tell us about trust?”
  • 10.00-10.30 Jaime Edwards (University of Chicago) “Just Because They Say It Doesn’t Make It So: On Group Consensus”
  • 10.30-11.00Anna Bortolan (UCD) “Self-trust and Epistemic Experience”
  • 11.00-11.30 Coffee Break
  • 11.30-12.00 Katherine O’Donnell (UCD) “Trust, Mistrust and Distrust: the Role of the Future in Gaining Trust”
  • 12.00-12.30 Nikolas Kirby (Oxford) “The People’s Trust: Trust, Distrust and Obligation”
  • 12.30-1.00 Christian Budnik (University of Bern) “The perspective of trust, trust relationships, and trust in democracies”

Parallel Session 2. Trust, Experts, and Disagreement

  • 9.30-10.00 Felix Bräuer (Humboldt University Berlin) “Testimony, Epistemic Communities, and Practical Risks”
  • 10.00-10.30 Erin Nash (Durham University) “Testimony, Trust, and Second-Order Evidence”
  • 10.30-11.00 Shane Ryan (Nazarbayev University) “Trust, Experts, and the Epistemic Environmentalism”
  • 11.00-11.30 Coffee Break
  • 11.30-12.00 Erich Witte (University of Hamburg) and Frank Zenker (Lund University) “Expert disagreement exceeding measurement uncertainty is unreasonable”
  • 12.00-12.30 Isaac Choi (Yale) "Trusting Experts: Two Problematic Views and an Escape from Skepticism."

Parallel Session 3 The Perils of Expertise

  • 9.30 Dustin Olson Epistemic Exploitation and the Erosion of Trust
    • 10.00 Patrizia Setola (UCD) “The use of experts to manipulate consumers' trust: a case study from the animal industry”
    • 10. 30 Jan-Jonathan Bok (Cambridge) “Science on Trial: The Politics of Expertise and Social Behaviour after the L’Aquila Earthquake
    • 11.00 Coffee Break
    • 11.30 Paul Giladi (University of Sheffield/UCD) “The War against Experts and the Reification of National Identity”

12.30-2.00 Lunch (and registration continues)

Panel 1 Trust in the Public Sphere

Chair: Imelda Maher (University College Dublin, School of Law)

  • 2.00 Imelda Maher (UCD) Trust in the Public Sphere: Setting the Scene
  • 2.10-2.50 Attracta Ingram (University College Dublin) “Political Trust”
  • 2.50-3.30 W.G. van der Meer (University of Amsterdam) “Going back to the well: Economics, Elections, and Trust in Politics”
  • 3.30-4.10 Judith Simon (University of Hamburg) “Trust in Data”
  • 4.10-4.50 Gloria Origgi (CNRS – Institut Nicod – Paris) “Trust in experts, truth and authority: some elements of a political epistemology”

4.50-5.20 Coffee Break

5. 20 Keynote Address 1

Onora O’Neill (University of Cambridge)

Chair: Maria Baghramian (UCD School of Philosophy and WEXD)

Followed by a Reception

Friday September 1

9.00am – 1.00 am Parallel Session 4. Special Session on Trust in Economics. Conveners: Don Ross (University College Cork) and Carlo Martini (University of Helsinki)

  • 9.00 Carlo Martini (University of Helsinki)
  • 9.30 Jérémie Dion, (Université de Sherbrooke) and François Claveau, (Université de Sherbrooke) Regulatory versus testimonial expertise: the case of central banking”
  • 10.00 Cormac Mac Fhionnlaoich (UCD) Lessons from Nobel Prize Winners in Economics
  • 10.30 Coffee Break
  • 11.00 Ashley Lait & Alvin Birdi, (Economics Network & University of Bristol) “Economic literacy and trust in economics: evidence from a national survey”
  • 11.30 Ben Trubody (University of Gloucestershire) “Mature and Immature Expertise: How Conceptual Inadequacies Can lead to the Undermining of Public Trust in Economics”
  • 12.00 Don Ross (University College Cork) “Why economists are most trustworthy when the general public isn't watching?”

Parallel Session 5. Trust in Science

  • 9.00 Michael Stoeltzner (University of South Carolina)Ceteris paribus Laws, Epistemic Reliability and Epistemic Trust in Applied Science”
  • 9.30 Tina Sikka (Newcastle University) “Feminist Epistemology and Trust in Climate Modelling”
  • 10.00 Jon Leefmann and Steffen Lesle (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg) “Knowledge from scientific expert testimony without epistemic trust”
  • 10.30 Coffee Break
  • 11.00 Haris Shekeris (University of Grenoble) “Trust in Science, Wicked problems and Democracy”
  • 11.30 David Harker (East Tennessee State University) “Science isn’t a democracy, but consensus is (higher-order) evidence nonetheless”
  • 12.00 Cormac O' Raifeartaigh (Waterford Institute of Technology) “Trust, Uncertainty and Society: The Public Perception of Scientific Uncertainty in the Climate Science Debate”
  • 12.30 Leah Henderson (University of Groningen) “Living in Different Worlds: the paradigm-dependence of trust”

1.00-2.00 Lunch

Panel 2 The Epistemology of Trust

Chair: James O’Shea, UCD School of Philosophy

  • 2.00-2.40 Adam Carter (University of Glasgow) “Trusting as a Cognitive Ability”
  • 2.40-3.20 Ruth Boeker (UCD) “David Hume and Thomas Reid on fidelity to promises and trust”
  • 3.20-4.00 Edward Nettle (UCD and WEXD) “On Agency and Trust in the Epistemology of Testimony”

4.00-4.30 Coffee Break

4.30-5.30 Keynote address 2:

Susan Owens (University of Cambridge)

“Trust, Expertise and the Environemt”

Chair: Anna Davies (Trinity College Dublin)

5.30- 6.30 Keynote address 3

Patrick Honohan (Trinity College Dublin)

"Taking Credit: Trust and Transactions in Economics"

Chair: Luke Drury (Institute for Advanced Studies and WEXD)

7.00 Conference Dinner

Saturday September 2

Parallel Session 6. Trust, Policy-Making and the Political Sphere

  • 9.00 Martin Ebeling (Independent) “Experts, Epistemic Trust, and Partisanship”
  • 9.30 Carrie Figdor (University of Iowa) “Trust me: News, Credibility Deficits, and Balance”
  • 10.00 Nick Tebben (Towson University) & John Waterman (University of New England) “Recognizing Expertise: An Epistemic Collective Action Problem”
  • 10.30 Coffee Break
  • 11.00 James Butler (Boston College) "Broken Trust: A Gadamarian Take on Experts, Choice, and a Return to the Humanities"
  • 11.30 Thi Nguyen (Utah Valley University) “Cognitive Islands and Runaway Echo Chambers: Problems for Expert Dependence”

Parallel Session 7 Trust, Public Discourse and Ethics

  • 09.00 Edward Spence (University of Sydney) “Trust in Information and its Communication: A Normative Account”
  • 9.30 Chris Cowley (University College Dublin) “Trust in institutions, trust in intimate friends, and the risk of self-deception
  • 10.00 Henry Henrysson (University of Iceland) “Is the Moral Philosopher an Expert? A Recent Icelandic Experience”
  • 10.30 Coffee Break
  • 11.30 Amber Riaz (Lahore University of Management Sciences) “Identifying Moral Experts”
  • 12.00 Matthew Dentith (University of Auckland) “Expertise and Conspiracy Theories: On the improvised nature of conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorizing”

Parallel Session 8 Trust in Medical Science Convener: Charlotte Blease (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, WEXD

  • 9.00 Oliver Feeney (University College Galway) Genuine participation in participant-centred research initiatives: the rhetoric and the potential reality”
  • 09.30 Katherine Furman (Durham University) “Policy-Making and the Duty to Gather Evidence”
  • 10.00 Lily Eva Frank (Eindhoven University of Technology) “Do as I say, not as I do: What can an obese cardiologist can tell us about trust in ethical expertise?”
  • 10.30 Coffee Break
  • 11.00 Anke Büter (Leibniz Universität Hannover) “Epistemic Trustworthiness & the Integration of Patients in Psychiatric Classification”
  • 11.30 Charlotte Blease (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and WEXD)

12.10-1.00 Report on the findings by WEXD

James Beebe, Maria Baghramian, Luke Drury, Finnur Dellsen (When Experts Disagree Research Project)

1.00-2.00 Lunch

Panel 3. Trust in Science

Chair: Adrian Ottewill (UCD Institute for Discovery)

  • 2.00 Etienne Parizot (Paris Diderot University) “Trust and doubt: a subtle balance between two essential driving forces of science”
  • 2.40 Rafael Alves Batista (University of Oxford) “Science, scientific consensus, and public perception of science”
  • 3.20 Shane Bergin (University College Dublin)

4.00-4.20 Coffee Break

Closing Session: Panel on Trust, Climate Change, and Policy


  • 4.20-5.00 Wendy Parker (University of Durham)
  • 5.00- 5.40 Rory O’Donnell (National Economic and Social Council, Ireland) “Reframing the Relationship Between Knowledge, Policy and Action in Addressing the Climate Change Challenge”
  • 5.40-6.20 Steve Rayner (University of Oxford)

6.20-6.30 Closing Remarks: Maria Baghramian and Luke Drury

The conference is generously supported by

The Irish Research Council

UCD School of Philosophy

UCD Institute for Discovery

"The Trinity of Policy-Making"

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O'Brien Centre for Science

University College Dublin

D4 Dublin


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