The Crisis of Expertise and the Question of Trust

Öffentlicher Vortrag von Prof. Gil Eyal (Columbia University) im Rahmen des Workshops „The Rise and Crisis of Expertise“

Moderation: Prof. Sophie Mützel, PhD

Datum: 5. Juni 2024
Zeit: 17.00 Uhr bis 19.00 Uhr
Ort: Frohburgstrasse 3, Hörsaal 5

Anmeldung erwünscht bis 3. Juni an:

The covid-19 pandemic made visible to many what sociologists and STS scholars have diagnosed earlier as a systemic and recurrent crisis of trust in science and expertise. Neither of these two terms – “expertise” and “trust” – however, are well-understood or have an unambiguous meaning. In this talk, I will trace multiple causes of the crisis, but will focus especially on regulatory science. The temporal structure of the facts produced by regulatory science differs from Kuhnian “normal science,” even as they carry profound distributional implications. As a result, they suffer from a set of congenital problems that provoke mistrust in a way that normal science facts do not. While “expertise” is often offered as an answer to these problems, I will argue that it is rather a symptom of the malaise, reflecting a situation where it is no longer clear how to decide between competing claims to authority as experts. Finally, the crisis is often represented as a matter of trust and mistrust, but I will argue that our theories and measures of trust are inadequate and shot through with profound ambiguities. We need to abandon the idea of trust as some social glue that holds societies together, and replace it with a theory of trusting as skilled, practical action. Such a theory offers many insights about the sources of the crisis and how to counteract it.

The talk will address an interdisciplinary audience from the social, cultural, and health sciences, including interested practitioners from Health Communication, and will be followed by a reception.