PERITIA Lecture: Heather Douglas on Trustworthy Science Advice

Heather Douglas will be the fourth speaker of the PERITIA Lectures [Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of DisinformationThe series explores the concept of trust and truth in light of current events. Prominent philosophers and academics from Europe and the United States come together to present their latest research on trust in science, conspiracy theories, trustworthy science, truth and democracy, and trust and cognitive science.

Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and a member of the Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science Group at Michigan State University, Heather Douglas will speak on ‘Trustworthy Science Advice’ on 18 May 2021. One of the most challenging aspects of science advice for policy is building a framework for trust in such advice.  Although science advice is not determinative of good policy, science advising is crucial for making good policy.  But in order for advice to have its helpful effect, it has to be trusted.  What should ground that trust?  The bases for trust in science in general are to be found in 1) the nature of expertise, 2) the social structure of science, and 3) scientists having the right values.

For the science advisor, these aspects of general trust in science are complicated by the special obligations the science advisor has to the scientific community, their advisees, and the public in democratic systems.  Yet the nature of these obligations, if understood properly, should further enhance the general account of trust for science in the case of the science advisor.  Such an understanding also moves us past the ideal of the “independent science advisor” to a fuller picture of the set of obligations that makes science advice reliable.

Reading Material

The Role of Scientific Expertise in Democracy, Heather Douglas

Forthcoming in Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology, Michael Hannon &
Jereon de Ridder (eds.)

Science, Values, and Citizens“, Heather Douglas

Forthcoming in Adams, A.;Biener, Z.; Feest; U. & Sullivan, J. (Eds.),  Oppure Si Mouve: Doing History and Philosophy of Science with Peter Machamer. The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science. Dordrecht: Springer


PERITIA launched a series of public lectures entitled ‘[Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of Disinformation’, from 6 April to 1 June 2021. Read more about the upcoming lectures here.


18 May 2021, 17:00 CEST

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Open to the public; registration mandatory

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