TIS plans a number of activities aimed at enhancing basic research and expert discussion on the understanding of the problem of trust in science and related topics, in a way that will ensure both interdisciplinarity and plurality of perspectives.
Members and affiliates will contribute by presenting their ideas and results both at academic and extra academic venues, and by publishing the outcomes of their research in the form of articles, books, discussion and position papers.
TIS is also committed to submit project proposals in fields of relevant interest.

TIS - Students' voices

We are a group of PISE (Philosophy, International Studies and Economics) students at Ca' Foscari University of Venice. As the student component of the project, we are interested in observing and discussing the role science plays in contemporary democracy, on the basis of the knowledge acquired during our course of studies. We do so by discussing some papers during online meetings, but also sharing our own ideas through articles, comments and any other means, if it can spread a message.

AlmaIdea-PhilHeaD workshop: "Covid Pandemics: Theoretical and Practical Issues"

17 october 2020

Raffaella Campaner (University of Bologna) introduces the online event consisting in two sections:
Section I: “Resilienza e salute: il caso Covid-19”
Section II: Covid-19 and Philosophy: Epistemological and Ethical Aspects 

The event will be online, on Teams: https://bit.ly/3lnxPci

Workshop "Building deliberative democracies"

On the 19th and 20th of December 2019 a group of philosophers, sociologists, political theorists, policy analysts, economists and natural scientists  met at Ca' Foscari Venice to discuss the opportunities and challenges of citizen participation in scientific research projects. The aim of the workshop was to reflect on the role that such participation can play in developing a well informed and deliberative public sphere, and more generally on how it can contribute to democratic life.

We here share the PP presentations of some of the talks given at this meeting

file pdfStéphanie Ruphy
Does scientific research need to be more inclusive to be more relevant and useful?And how?
1.41 M
file pdfSophia Efstathiou
Promoting Critical Citizen Participation in Technology Development: Enabling Responsible Research and Innovation through Science Humanities and Arts Knowledge Exercises (SHAKE)
1.44 M
file pdfSebastiano Bavetta
Experimentation and grass-rooted innovation
5.89 M
file pdfFrédérique Chlous and Romain Julliard
Citizen Science: quality data and collective intelligence
8.72 M
file pdfAnna Domaradzka
Grassroots’ norm entrepreneurship: the role of civil society actors in agenda-setting and knowledge production in urban policy field in Poland
8.35 M
file pdfCarolina Llorente
Citizen participation in science: scientists and third sector opinions
3.89 M
file pdfMarie-Louise Jorgensen
Participatory approaches in research and policy-making - a practitioners perspective
10.93 M
file pdfBogna Gawronska-Nowak, Jan Grzymski, Piotr Lis, Russell Foster
Populists vs. technocrats. New (?) framework for public debate
0.94 M

In these times of global crisis trust in science is more than ever an urgent, as well as a hard-won matter, especially in the midst of the overwhelming amount of science-related Covid information we are all exposed to on a daily basis.

In one of the articles included below it is pointed out that by looking at the one hundred days since the outburst of the epidemics an interesting mismatch can be detected between the number (indeed vast) of scientific articles on the new coronavirus and the types of pubblications. A large majority did not follow the traditional routes of journal submission, peer review etc. They rather appeared in the form of comments, interviews, blog and newspaper contributions, and the like. This is not to say that only traditional routes are trustworthy beyond doubt, but it certainly makes the task of separating out what is reliable and what is not, or less so, more diffuse and more dependent on conditions and circumstances which require specific attention and in depth critical appraisal.

In this page TIS collects a work-in-progress number of contributions that aims at reflecting the eclectic range of forms that public information has taken in the coronavirus debate, while keeping as its focus of interest the question of how science can be trusted in this debate, and in view of serving what purposes. 

An overwhelming part of the debate about the coronavirus pandemic has been led by statistics. What do these number mean? What picture do they help building up? Can they be trusted, and are there reasons for distrusting them? Here below is a selection of primary and secondary sources on the formulation and use of statistics in this ongoing debate.

WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard
WHO Africa_Coronavirus (COVID-19)
European Commission_Eurostat_Help Frequently asked questions COVID-19
Office for National Statistics


Here are three questions we believe can contribute to focus the debate on Covid-19 on issues of public relevance. Each question entails a dimension of trust.
Below we provide some shetchy frameworks for addressing the questions.

Posing some questions

  1. Evaluating and communicating risks in the Covid-19 debate: How do technocracy and populism feed into politics?
  2. Taking part in the Covid-19 debate : What must laypeople understand about science to allow them to form sound opinion on science related issues
  3. Dealing with emotions in the Covid-19 debate : What language should experts adopt in a time of crisis to mantain or regain trust in science?

Framing some issues

  1. Populism and technocracy are often presented as opposite ideas of governance in our democracies.  Technocracy is widely characterized as giving a privileged place to science, in view of building and supporting a general vision of ‘evidence-based policy’.  Populists seek for ‘alternative’ facts and long for a science made ‘in the name of the people’. However, the current crisis has shown that this characterization is far too simplistic. Science demonstrated its limits in answering the vast range of public health queries that suddenly emerged. Public health problems are clearly entangled with a wide array of considerations that strongly demand equally extended forms of expertise (economic, sociological, psychological, political, ethical, etc). In the light of all this, purely technocratic methods of governance prove insufficient to lead political decisions on their own. However, a science made ‘in the name of the people’ should be able to be critical both of its achievements and of the idea of ‘people’ in the name of which these achievements are pursued. If we want to rebuild some form of public trust in science, and in the role of scientific experts in our societies, there are a number of dimensions in the production and use of scientific knowledge that should be explicitly acknowledged and openly discussed. The first among them concerns the evaluation of the risks and uncertainties inherent to science. How should a discussion that is both competent and open take place? How should risks be evaluated and communicated in such a way that they become an asset for, not a hindrance to, policy making and public decision making? How can experts convincingly convey a sense of balance between what is known and what is uncertain?
  2. The current crisis has, once again, brought to the fore the importance of scientific knowledge in our lives, both private and public. Debates about public health measures, or the effectiveness of anti-covid-19 treatments, have fast spread from the realm of technical expertise to the general public or better, to different publics with different degrees of expertise, values, interests and political agendas. Producing a shared and publicly understood scientific knowledge that could be of use in formulating policy decisions  goes hand in hand with the construction of a public sphere able to address and discuss science-related issues in an informed and rational way. This requires, among other things, that ordinary citizens master some elements of science. But what does this ‘mastering’ involve ? and what should it refer to - the very content of science? the epistemic underpinnings of science as a collective endeavor? the main methods used to justify scientific assertions? the ability to recognize the line of divide between lay citizens and experts? And once such a line is drawn, how can an appropriate and effective relation between citizens and experts (including political experts) be built? Does trust play a part, and what part does it play?
  3. Trust in science clearly relies on epistemic conditions (how can we judge that and when a piece of scientific information or result is reliable). Trust also entails an ethical dimension (how honest, responsible and in good faith a scientist is in communicating a result) and a political one (how scientific advice reliably translates into policy recommendations ). However, we should not forget or overlook also its emotional or affective dimension. The current crisis aptly demonstrates that the trust we are willing to grant to scientific experts, as well as to political decisions based on their advice, might be heavily affected or altered by people’s reactions, sometimes over-reactions, to public advice and messages, by how much they are perceived – rightly or wrongly – as an interference on individual rights and freedom, by their potential to increase anxiety and fears towards the presumed reality of certain risks, or the forseable damage of adopting certain codes of conduct. How can experts (scientific, social, political) take carefully into acount the emotional dimension of trust? How much is emotion conducive of plain distrust ?  What kinds of interventions are likely to succeed in undoing distrust, once we acknowledge that regaining trust is not only a matter of providing the injured party with information about why they should trust?

Reflecting on the questions

A group of undergraduates from 'Philosophy, International and Economic Studies' at Ca' Foscari meets online to discuss issues and ideas at the interface between trust and covid-19 science.


Sofia Lo Mascolo – student group coordinator
Sara Apolloni
Viola Santini
Jacopo Babuscio
Filippo Dell’Andrea
Ludovico Campagnolo
Irene Ferigo
Elia Mantovani
Juliette Miatello
Caterina Cognini
Francesca Rinaldi
Mohamad Reynaldi
Pierluigi Cantatore
Ruggero Lazzaroni

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  • Barrotta, P. and Gronda, R. Epistemic Inequality and the Grounds of Trust in Scientific Experts, in A. Fabris (ed), Trust. A Philosophical Approach, Cham: Springer, 2020, pp. 81-94.
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