, Volume 177, Issue 3, pp 411-425
Date: 07 Sep 2010

Trust, expertise, and the philosophy of science

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Abstract

Trust is a central concept in the philosophy of science. We highlight how trust is important in the wide variety of interactions between science and society. We claim that examining and clarifying the nature and role of trust (and distrust) in relations between science and society is one principal way in which the philosophy of science is socially relevant. We argue that philosophers of science should extend their efforts to develop normative conceptions of trust that can serve to facilitate trust between scientific experts and ordinary citizens. The first project is the development of a rich normative theory of expertise and experience that can explain why the various epistemic insights of diverse actors should be trusted in certain contexts and how credibility deficits can be bridged. The second project is the development of concepts that explain why, in certain cases, ordinary citizens may distrust science, which should inform how philosophers of science conceive of the formulation of science policy when conditions of distrust prevail. The third project is the analysis of cases of successful relations of trust between scientists and non-scientists that leads to understanding better how ‘postnormal’ science interactions are possible using trust.