Call for abstracts

20-21 June 2022
University of Helsinki + Zoom (hybrid)

Invited speakers

Cailin O’Connor, UC Irvine
Gloria Origgi, Institut Jean Nicod (CNRS-ENS-EHESS)
Kristina Rolin, Tampere University

Organisers

Raul Hakli, Säde Hormio and Samuli Reijula (University of Helsinki)

Institutional epistemology aims to understand the formal and informal institutions of social knowledge production. The approach extends social epistemology by combining it with the perspectives of philosophy of science, social ontology and political philosophy, and takes into account the empirical and theoretical resources of the social, behavioural and cognitive sciences. Hence, an institutional epistemology approach investigates questions such as what kind of incentive structures enable the efficient, reliable and fair pursuit of knowledge? Institutional epistemology also looks at the epistemic powers of institutions (Anderson 2006). How can the epistemic performance of knowledge institutions such as universities, think tanks and media organisations be improved by careful design? What unintended consequences arise or are likely to arise from different institutional arrangements? In addition to studying the effects of institutional arrangements to the epistemic state of individuals, institutional epistemology also studies the possibility of institutionally organized collective epistemic agents.

Knowledge production and cultivation does not take place in an institutional vacuum. In order to understand the collective epistemic dynamics of knowledge institutions, we must uncover the social mechanisms underlying such dynamics. In contrast to traditional individual-centric epistemology, institutional epistemology studies epistemic rationality in real-world contexts rather than analysing concepts of knowledge and justification in the abstract. Institutional epistemology focuses on concrete social mechanisms and processes, as well as on the unintended consequences of action and arrangements (cf. Goldman & McGrath 2015). Some recent examples of the kinds of phenomena that institutional epistemology can help to shed a light on include the public’s growing distrust toward the scientific community, manufacturing doubt to discredit science, post-truth politics, and epistemic bubbles. 

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

  • Social and cognitive diversity
  • Forms of scientific collaboration
  • Institutional conditions for trust
  • Epistemic implications of institutional arrangements for universities
  • Competition, collaboration, meritocracy in knowledge institutions
  • Collective knowledge
  • Theories of institutions applied to science
  • Deliberation – Wisdom of the crowds – Groupthink
  • Institutions and agnotology
  • Epistemic defence of democratic institutions

The hybrid workshop is organised by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki, and the Academy of Finland research project Modeling the republic of science: Collaborative problem solving and collective rationality in scientific inquiry.

Call for abstracts

If you would like to present at the workshop, please send a long abstract (1000–1500 words), anonymized for blind review, to institutional.epistemology@gmail.com by 10 April 2022. 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. Please also indicate if you would prefer to attend in-person or virtually. Decisions will be sent out after mid-April.