Workshop: Social Indicators of Trust in Experts

Workshop: Social Indicators of Trust in Experts

Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS), Paris, France
3 Jun 2021

IMPORTANT NOTICE: We hope to host a physical meeting. If circumstances do not allow for this, we will provide a hybrid or entirely virtual alternative. 

The aim of this conference organised by PERITIA is to help understand what informal social indicators people use in order to evaluate the trustworthiness of experts. Among the informal social indicators there are emotions, gossip, authority, social status and the biases that underscore them. For example, when lay persons rapidly estimate the credibility of a doctor, they rely on informal social indicators like recommendations from trusted individuals (word-of-mouth), perceived social prestige (social status), and emotional response to the doctor. Such examples show how social indicators can combine and conflict in expected and unexpected ways, the consequences of this socially shaped reliance on expertise, and their overall social impact.

When we are not competent enough ourselves, we rely on experts to advise us and to act in our best interest, with the vulnerability involved in such a dependence on the competence and goodwill of others. How do we evaluate the trustworthiness of experts? Since we appeal to experts when we lack relevant epistemic competence, we cannot judge their trustworthiness on direct epistemic grounds. Reliance on experts and appeal to their domains of expertise extends well beyond traditional measures of impact, authority, and ranking. Formal indicators are complemented by informal social indicators (quality, credibility and trustworthiness), which work as cues of reputation that are distributed in a social environment.

On the subject of informal social indicators, there will be a range of theoretical and empirical contributions (including case studies) addressing epistemic, normative and practical aspects of trust in experts.

Questions/topics include, but are not limited to:

  1. How do people use reputation in order to establish the epistemic credibility of experts?
  2. What is epistemic authority and when is it reasonable to attribute it to experts?
  3. How status relations influence the credibility of experts?
  4. To what extent can gossip be a reliable way of extracting information from an epistemic social environment?
  5. What are the social biases that participate into the formation of credibility deficits of a group?
  6. What are the emotional aspects that influence the attribution of epistemic authority and status to experts?

Papers will be presented in sessions of 40 minutes and a selection of papers will be published in a journal.

Organizers: Gloria Origgi and Ty BranchPERITIA

Confirmed keynote speakers: Dan Sperber, Mark Alfano, Cristina Bicchieri

Call for Paper Presentations