030088 Social Epistemology: The Epistemology of Expert Judgements (Brössel and Grundmann)

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This online research seminar is conducted with Prof. Thomas Grundmann from the University of Cologne. Active participation is a prerequisite for the successful completion of the seminar. Modern societies benefit significantly from a certain kind of specialist: well-trained cognitive experts who can draw on extensive societal resources for their research. These cognitive experts produce high-quality and often even in-depth knowledge in their fields, enabling technological and economic progress and serving as a reliable basis for political decision-making. Unfortunately, the more competent, specialized, sophisticated, and thus more successful cognitive experts are doing their job, the greater their cognitive distance from the folk will become and the harder it will be for laypeople to identify experts, to decide whom among disagreeing experts they should trust, to demarcate genuine experts from fake experts, or to hold on to their general trust in experts. This leads to philosophical questions such as the following ones: How should laypeople be able to tell who qualifies as an expert if they know very little, if not nothing, about the relevant field? How can they rationally decide who is more trustworthy when two experts disagree? How can the folk distinguish between true experts and incompetent people who do their best to appear as true experts by establishing their network of citations, alternative platforms, or even fake journals? And how can laypeople avoid general distrust in elites who are not even intelligible to them? In preparation for each seminar session, we will read texts (these texts will be work-in-progress manuscripts) by world-leading philosophers that (try to) answer some of the above questions. In the seminar sessions, we meet online with the authors of each text to discuss critically and help to improve their work. Thus, students not only have the chance to discuss with leading social epistemologists but also have the opportunity to learn how philosophical articles are written and improved upon criticism.