Masterclass Social Epistemology

RU_thumbnailThe Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) and the University of Groningen invite PhD students in philosophy to register for the masterclass Social Epistemology. This event will take place from 7 December until 8 December 2016, immediately preceding the OZSW Conference.

Organizing university

University of Groningen


7 - 8 December 2016


University of Groningen
Faculty of Philosophy, room Aquarium / Beta / Omega

Type of activity


Primary target group

PhD Candidates

If places available, also open to

ReMa Students

Application/registration deadline

1 December 2016


We will have a two-day masterclass with the following speakers:

Wednesday 7/12
9:30 Introduction
9:45 Lecture 1: Jan-Willem Romeijn (RUG): “Collective decision making”
11:15 Lecture 2: Marc Pauly (RUG): “A Framework for Ontological Policy Reconstruction”
12:45 Lunch
13:30 Lecture 3: Allard Tamminga (RUG): “Collective obligations, group plans, and individual actions”
15:15:  Colloquium with Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern University): “Norms of Credibility”
17:30 Drinks and dinner

Thursday 8/12
9:45 Lecture 4: Leah Henderson (RUG): “Reliability and evidence”
11:15 Lecture 5: Andreas Schmidt (RUG): “Rationality and Behavioural Policies”
12:45 Lunch
13:30 Lecture 6: Chiara Lisciandra (RUG) & Miles Macleod: “Social Epistemology in Interdisciplinary Contexts”
15:00 Lecture 7: Catarina Dutilh-Novaes (RUG): “Argumentation and transfer of epistemic assets”
16:30 Drinks

Lecture’s Abstracts

Jan-Willem Romeijn “Collective decision making”
Crowds are presumably wise, in the sense that they take better decisions
than separate individuals. On the other hand, crowds are sometimes prone
to groupthink and even mass hysteria. How can we avoid these problematic
epistemic characteristics of crowd and benefit from its wisdom?

Marc Pauly “A Framework for Ontological Policy Reconstruction”
In this lecture I will develop a framework for analyzing the ontology
underlying a given public policy, i.e. the categories and concepts used
by the policy. The framework is applied to particular cases to suggest
the usefulness of the framework in the design and normative evaluation
of public policy.

Allard Tamminga “Collective obligations, group plans, and individual

If group members aim to fulfill a collective obligation, they must act
in such a way that the composition of their individual actions amounts
to a group action that fulfills the collective obligation. We
characterize the conditions under which a group plan successfully
coordinates the group members’ individual actions, and study how the
public adoption of a plan changes the context in which individual agents
make a decision about what to do.

Jennifer Lackey “Norms of Credibility”
What is the norm governing our credibility assessments of others?
According to Miranda Fricker, the answer is “obvious”: we should match
the level of credibility attributed to others to the evidence that they
are offering the truth. In this paper, I will show that this
evidentialist norm of credibliity assessments is seriously wanting. In
particular, I will identify and develop two kinds of testimonial
injustice, which I call distributive and normative, and argue that this
norm is fundamentally incapable of ruling them out. Finally, I will
develop and defend an alternative norms—what I call the Wide Norm of
Credibility—that not only avoids the problems afflicting the
evidentialist version, but also makes vivid both the relational and
normative dimensions of our credibility assessments.

Leah Henderson “Reliability and evidence”
We constantly rely on experts and other sources of information, not all
of which are completely reliable. This lecture will discuss how we
should take account of the reliability of our sources when we evaluate

Andreas Schmidt “Rationality and Behavioural Policies”
Behavioural policies try to effect widespread behaviour change through
insights from behavioural science. Critics object that such policies
treat agents as irrational, as they seem to exploit people’s cognitive
biases instead of supporting rational agency. Drawing on discussions in
psychology and philosophy, I argue against this objection: respecting
people as rational actually requires more rather than fewer behavioural

Chiara Lisciandra “Social Epistemology in Interdisciplinary Contexts”

Social epistemology construes knowledge as a collective achievement. In
this lecture, we will focus on scientific communities composed of
scientists from different disciplines. This reflects the situation of
research programmes created for the solution of complex problems, as for
instance it is common in cognitive science, nanoscience, system-biology,
bioinformatics, etc. While interdisciplinarity is often presented as a
good thing, in this course we will reflect on the challenges that it
presents. We will focus on the problem of how scientists respond to
different epistemic virtues and how they can collaborate while
preserving their own epistemic standards.

Catarina Dutilh-Novaes “Argumentation and transfer of epistemic assets”

Epistemically responsible agents must navigate between neither trusting
nor mistrusting everything that they are told. Arguably, exchanging
reasons for one’s beliefs by means of argumentation is one way in which
an agent can ‘screen’ information passed on to her by others. In my
talk, I develop the idea that argumentation serves the purpose of
transfer of epistemic assets, such that the epistemic autonomy of the
agent is preserved while also ensuring the possibility of truly learning
from others.

Certificate / credit points



The course is free for OZSW members.
Non OZSW members pay a tuition fee of 100 euros.

How to apply / register


secretariaat OZSW (
Jan-Willem Romeijn (