Event Title

Who and what to trust: A discussion of different ethical aspects of trust

Presenter Information

Angelika Soldan

Start Date

26-6-2010 9:00 AM

End Date

26-6-2010 10:30 AM

Description

This presentation is part of the Constructing Race and Sexuality track.

Taking into account the split between expert and lay cultures in the sciences as well as in philosophy, the politization of the sciences, which has turned them into battlefields of politics and ideologies, among others, over the allocation of funds; considering the commercialization and marketing of the sciences, which has led to their conversion into merchandise, and bearing in mind the publicity/lack thereof and the propaganda battles fought over the aforementioned processes, the proposed paper will discuss different ethical dimensions of the notions of trust/Vertrauen.

In conjunction with an etymological inquiry, differences and similarities in the ethical positionedness of the so-called layman, that is, the non-expert in a particular field/subfield of science or philosophy and the expert will be investigated and the ethical limits to skepticism and criticism examined. In the paper, different trains of thought will be interwoven, that are rooted in the theories of, among others, Kant, Schopenhauer, Ahrendt, Kearney, Feyerabend, and Agamben, in order to argue that, in the end, it is the individual that has to carry the "moral burden" based on what it has decided to consider "the right thing" and the "doable” and willed right action. Why, what, and whom to trust becomes essential for the decision-making process.

With specialization and sub-specialization in the sciences and in philosophy came special technical languages with very particular vocabularies. Philosophers and ethicists, in order to be able to discuss research or their legal implications have to acquire language and knowledge competency in “the field.” The academization of philosophy and its subdisciplines, which has put certain schools and approaches into the forefront, has further contributed to the compartmentalization of philosophy and ethics. The conceptual frameworks and decision-making tools provided by particular expert communities of ethicists, because of their highly specialized languages, have come to mainly address “insiders,” that is, other specialists in one of the subfields of philosophy or ethics, or other educated elites. Moreover, the limitations of these “tools” and that they are just models of a particular reality are often forgotten or only determined with reference to a limited number of other expert tools, even by the experts themselves.

Non-specialists, even within the sciences or philosophy, because of their inability to understand the lingo of the specialist, are somehow left in limbo; they have to do their own research and make their decision based on the examples and advice provided by the mass media and their understanding of the information available on the Internet (probably on of the reasons for the popularity of self-help books). It seems as if ethics has become like the arts (Feyerabend) in that it provides with arguments for why a particular model/style or train of thought should be preferred over another or others and leaving the choice to the choice to the individual's gut feeling.

The proposed paper, therefore, will discuss the issue of trust in connection with the question of what kind of critical thinking and self-reflection skills are generally necessary for the moral decision-making process.

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Jun 26th, 9:00 AM Jun 26th, 10:30 AM

Who and what to trust: A discussion of different ethical aspects of trust

This presentation is part of the Constructing Race and Sexuality track.

Taking into account the split between expert and lay cultures in the sciences as well as in philosophy, the politization of the sciences, which has turned them into battlefields of politics and ideologies, among others, over the allocation of funds; considering the commercialization and marketing of the sciences, which has led to their conversion into merchandise, and bearing in mind the publicity/lack thereof and the propaganda battles fought over the aforementioned processes, the proposed paper will discuss different ethical dimensions of the notions of trust/Vertrauen.

In conjunction with an etymological inquiry, differences and similarities in the ethical positionedness of the so-called layman, that is, the non-expert in a particular field/subfield of science or philosophy and the expert will be investigated and the ethical limits to skepticism and criticism examined. In the paper, different trains of thought will be interwoven, that are rooted in the theories of, among others, Kant, Schopenhauer, Ahrendt, Kearney, Feyerabend, and Agamben, in order to argue that, in the end, it is the individual that has to carry the "moral burden" based on what it has decided to consider "the right thing" and the "doable” and willed right action. Why, what, and whom to trust becomes essential for the decision-making process.

With specialization and sub-specialization in the sciences and in philosophy came special technical languages with very particular vocabularies. Philosophers and ethicists, in order to be able to discuss research or their legal implications have to acquire language and knowledge competency in “the field.” The academization of philosophy and its subdisciplines, which has put certain schools and approaches into the forefront, has further contributed to the compartmentalization of philosophy and ethics. The conceptual frameworks and decision-making tools provided by particular expert communities of ethicists, because of their highly specialized languages, have come to mainly address “insiders,” that is, other specialists in one of the subfields of philosophy or ethics, or other educated elites. Moreover, the limitations of these “tools” and that they are just models of a particular reality are often forgotten or only determined with reference to a limited number of other expert tools, even by the experts themselves.

Non-specialists, even within the sciences or philosophy, because of their inability to understand the lingo of the specialist, are somehow left in limbo; they have to do their own research and make their decision based on the examples and advice provided by the mass media and their understanding of the information available on the Internet (probably on of the reasons for the popularity of self-help books). It seems as if ethics has become like the arts (Feyerabend) in that it provides with arguments for why a particular model/style or train of thought should be preferred over another or others and leaving the choice to the choice to the individual's gut feeling.

The proposed paper, therefore, will discuss the issue of trust in connection with the question of what kind of critical thinking and self-reflection skills are generally necessary for the moral decision-making process.