Contested Expertise: Trust in Science and Technology

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganising a conference, workshop, ...

Description

If there is anything that the Covid-19 pandemic shows, it is that social trust in science and technology is not self-evident. Expert claims about the severity of the disease and the dynamics of infection are met with skepticism and sometimes outright dismissal. This distrust is a sign of a broader development since the late twentieth century, in which expert knowledge seems to be losing ground in society. Knowledge institutions, such as universities, expert agencies and other professional mediators are under pressure as part of a more general sentiment to question foundations of ‘modern’ Western science and technology. At the same time, the humanities and social sciences face crises of trust in the form of the decolonization debate and the replication crisis. An overall crisis of trust in scientific knowledge (broadly conceived!) looms large. However, trust in these institutions and their knowledge practices has never been natural. Modern knowledge institutions rose to prominence in the early modern period and did so at the expense of other institutions such as guilds, churches, and the republic of letters. Scientific knowledge acquired social and cultural status at the expense of artisanal knowledge; disciplinary experts marginalized the polymath scholar. Trust had to be gained, and it has had to be continually maintained. The current crisis puts new pressure on the status of science and technology and the question what the response will be.
Period17 Jun 202218 Jun 2022
Event typeConference
LocationDriebergen-Zeist, Netherlands
Degree of RecognitionNational

Keywords

  • history of science
  • history of medicine