Call for abstracts

Institutional Epistemology Workshop
20-22 June 2023
University of Helsinki 

Invited speakers
Elizabeth Anderson (University of Michigan)
Daniel Steel (The University of British Columbia) – online talk
Alison Wylie (The University of British Columbia)

Programme committee
Raul Hakli (University of Helsinki)
Säde Hormio (IFFS Stockholm & University of Helsinki)
Maria Lasonen-Aarnio (University of Helsinki)
Samuli Reijula (University of Helsinki)
Kristina Rolin (Tampere University)

Institutional epistemology aims to understand the formal and informal aspects of social knowledge production, as well as the epistemic powers of institutions. The approach extends social epistemology by combining it with the perspectives of philosophy of science, social ontology, and political philosophy. The questions involved are therefore rich and varied, including the following: What is the proper role of deliberation in social groups and institutions? Should all knowledge producing institutions be run democratically? How can institutions prevent and correct epistemic injustices? What unintended consequences are likely to arise from different institutional arrangements? How can the epistemic performance of knowledge institutions such as universities, think tanks and media organisations be improved by careful design? In addition to studying the effects of institutional arrangements to the epistemic state of individuals, institutional epistemology studies the possibility of institutionally organised collective epistemic agents.

Knowledge production, cultivation and dissemination does not take place in an institutional vacuum. In contrast to traditional individual-centric epistemology, instead of analysing concepts of knowledge and justification in the abstract only, institutional epistemology studies epistemic rationality in real-world contexts. In this respect, institutional epistemology overlaps with recent work in feminist philosophy of science and epistemology, and more broadly, in socially engaged philosophy of science and political epistemology.

Relevant topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

Institutional conditions for epistemic trust
Social and cognitive diversity
Disagreement, dissent, and polarisation
Institutional arrangements of (un)reliable science
Socially responsible science
Institutions and epistemic justice
Deliberation – Wisdom of the crowds – Groupthink
The epistemic functions of emotions
Bias and ignorance
Propaganda, misinformation, and fake news
Epistemic defence of democratic institutions
Epistocracy: for or against
The role of experts in democracy
The science-policy interface

The workshop is jointly organised by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science together with the ERC-funded project ‘Competence and Success in Epistemology and Beyond’ at the University of Helsinki, in collaboration with the ‘Social and Cognitive Diversity in Science: An Epistemic Assessment’ project at Tampere University.

If you would like to present at the workshop, please send an extended abstract (1000–1500 words), anonymized for blind review, to by 31st March 2023. The papers can be purely theoretical, or they can discuss applied issues. Please provide your name and information about your institutional affiliation (if applicable) in your email, but leave all identifying information out of the abstract. We aim to organise the workshop as an in-person event, but may accept a couple of online presentations, so please indicate if you cannot attend physically but would be able to present remotely.