SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Moral and Scientific Expertise
(Workshop 2 (online), )

When it comes to moral expertise our cultural and political practice do not go hand in hand with the philosophical debate. While it is common to refer to members of ethics committees as moral experts, who due their professional training in moral philosophy have an advantage over laypersons, the ongoing philosophical debates on the practical roles and expectation, political legitimacy and even metaphysical possibility of moral expertise call the idea of objective moral arbiters into question (Singer 1972, Dietrich 2012, Archard 2019). Curiously, the same can not be said about scientific expertise. Only few scientific relativists would doubt the possibility of scientific expertise on principal. The overwhelming majority of philosophers of science agree that proper scientific and methodological training in combination with a solid institutional framework justifies laypersons trust when it comes to the opinion of scientists on scientific questions. The talks in this workshop address this tension known as the asymmetry problem for moral expertise and connected questions.

The talks in this workshop address questions like the following:
- What exactly distinguishes moral expertise from scientific expertise from an epistemological point of view?
- Can we disentangle moral expertise from moral realism or any particular stance on the ontology of moral facts?
- Is moral deference, which is often considered morally problematic, categorically different from scientific / epistemic deference, which is often seen as unproblematic?
- What role can moral experts play in moral deliberation, e.g. in clinical ethics, in corporate consulting and policy-making?
- How can we warrant trust in moral experts? Do we need a moral framework that provides guidelines for moral experts similar to guidelines for scientific experts?


16:30-16:40 introducing discussion
16:40-17:10 Julia Mirkin: Specifying Clinical Expertise and the Demands for its Transition and Implementation in Clinical Practice
17:10-17:40 Alexander Christian: Localized strong moral expertise
17:40-17:10 break
17:50-18:20 Frauke Albersmeier: Moralische Expertise, ethisches Unvermögen und ideologische Interessenkonflikte
18:20-18:50 David Stoellger: Expertise and the limits of public participation In the Context of communicable disease Outbreaks
18:50-19:00 break
19:00-19:30 Ina Gawel: On Peer Review and Expertise
19:30-20:00 Discussion

Organizational information for speakers
1. We scheduled 20 minutes for each talk plus 5-10 minutes for discussions, i.e. the approx. speech time is 25 minutes.
2. We will use Webex for the meeting, please see contact information below.
Information for external participants
- In case you want to participate in our workshop, feel free to contact us via email (, we will send you the meeting-information, please be aware that we will use Webex for the workshop.

Localized strong moral expertise
Dr. Alexander Christian
I defend an interpretation of the moral expertise thesis, according to which some professional agents are, ceteris paribus and due to their scientific and moral training, the optimal candidates to make moral judgements about a specific class of moral issues arising in research and publication processes. Against the background of a broader account of expertise based on (Scholz, 2018) I will first illustrate such localized strong moral expertise with a case study on a the moral debate about human germline editing via CRISPR,Cas9 and discuss merits and limitations of this account. Then I will identify conditions under which laypersons should defer to these expertise-based moral judgements ? vice versa should be skeptical about non-(localized strong) moral judgements by scientists. The latter issue will be related to moral claims in CRISPR,Cas-policy making, e.g. on a moratorium on human germline interventions (c.f. Lander et al., 2019).

Lander, et al. (2019). Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing. Nature, 567(7747), 165?168. Scholz, O. R. (2018). Symptoms of Expertise: Knowledge, Understanding and Other Cognitive Goods. Topoi, 37(1), 29?37.

About the speaker
Dr. Alexander Christian is a postdoctoral research fellow at the chair for theoretical philosophy at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Duesseldorf and the assistant director of the Duesseldorf Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (DCLPS).?

Specifying Clinical Expertise and the Demands for its Transition and Implementation in Clinical Practice
Julia Mirkin M.A. (University of Duesseldorf, QVM Project Ethics of Science)

Not only since the outbreak of a global pandemic the central role of clinical expertise, when interpreting and integrating research evidence, is pivotal. It is also a central element of the definition of Evidence Based Medicine (EBM): "Evidence-based medicine (EBM) requires the integration of the best research evidence with our clinical expertise and our patient's unique values and circumstances." (Straus et al., 2018, p. 18). While there are attempts to codify and apply explicit rules for the interpretation of various kinds of medical evidence, "clinical expertise", due to its dependence on personal clinical experience, to a certain degree, seems to elude such a codification, since it is in part shaped by an array of rather diffuse parameters such as socio-economic aspects, climate, nutrition, cultural values in general, patient values in particular (Thornton, 2006; Al- Lawama, 2016). In spite of the dependence of personal clinical experience the transition and implementation of clinical expertise is crucial for successful treatment results in a constantly dynamic environment.
In this talk I aim to explicate what is meant by "clinical expertise" and how it can be specified (Scholz, 2018; Haynes, Devereaux and Guyatt, 2002). In order to identify questions that arise when trying to assess expertise as a part of integrating it in ones own clinical practice, considering the additional requirements in comparison to implementing sheer research evidence.

Al-Lawama, M. (2016) ?How to implement medical evidence into practice in developing countries?, International journal of medical education. IJME, 7, pp. 320?321. Haynes, R. B., Devereaux, P. J. and Guyatt, G. H. (2002) ?Clinical expertise in the era of evidence- based medicine and patient choice.?, EBM Notebook, 36, pp. 36?38. Scholz, O. R. (2018) ?Symptoms of Expertise: Knowledge, Understanding and Other Cognitive Goods?, Topoi. Springer Netherlands, 37(1), pp. 29?37. d Straus, S. et al. (2018) Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM. 5th edn. Elsevier. Thornton, T. (2006) 'Tacit knowledge as the unifying factor in evidence based medicine and clinical judgement', Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine. BioMed Central, 1(2).

About the speaker
Julia Mirkin M.A. is a research fellow in the QVM-funded project "Ethics of Science for the empirical disciplines" at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Duesseldorf.

Moralische Expertise, ethisches Unvermögen und ideologische Interessenkonflikte
Frauke Albersmeier M.A.

Die Beschäftigung mit Fragen nach der moralischen Expertise von Wissenschaftlern ? etwa danach, ob Kompetenzen auf dem Gebiet der philosophischen Disziplin Ethik mit einer besonderen Zuverlaessigkeit in der Beantwortung moralischer Fragen einhergehen oder welche spezifische moralische Expertise von Vertretern anderer Fächer erwartet werden kann ? verlangt nach Ergaenzung um die Auseinandersetzung mit einem konzeptuellen Gegenstück zu moralischer Expertise: ethischem Unvermögen. Die Probleme mangelnder Faehigkeit oder Bereitschaft zur Reflexion moralischer Fragen fallen zwar in den Gegenstandsbereich der Wissenschaftsethik, werden aber kaum in einen Zusammenhang mit ihrem positiven Pendant, moralischer Expertise, gebracht. Der Vortrag geht diesem Zusammenhang nach, identifiziert dabei ideologische Interessenkonflikte als vernachlässigte Störfaktoren für Forschungsabläufe und zeigt ihre mögliche inner- und außerwissenschaftliche Wirkung auf.

About the speaker
Frauke Albersmeier M.A. (Dr. phil, 2019) is a postdoctoral research fellow in the DFG-funded research project "Voraussetzungen der Frametheorie in der Geschichte der Philosophie" at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Duesseldorf.?

Expertise and the limits of public participation In the Context of communicable disease Outbreaks
David Stoellger M.A.
(University of Bielefeld, DFG Research Training Group 2073)
Scientific experts are significantly involved in advisory roles to policymakers, the judiciary, and the public. In the context of outbreaks involving novel communicable pathogens, the demands brought forth towards scientific experts are exaggerated by limited available evidence, exceptional time and resource constrains. At the same time, given the peculiarities of communicable disease outbreaks, everyone is an active stakeholder. The success of public health policy critically depends on the public?s acceptance of scientific advice and the resulting restrictions of the policies. Still, expert's advice is usually given greater weight in setting up, evaluating, and adjusting policies, given their better epistemic, practical, and hermeneutical position in their respective field. Nonexperts lacking such a better position are in many circumstances unable to assess expert's advice themselves.
I aim to explicate how far scientific experts ought to come to an agreement with nonexperts. To be able to that, I argue for both a bidirectional, but also asymmetrical 'expert-nonexpert relationship'. I wish to ultimately offer conditions, that if violated by nonexperts, give experts good reason to limit some non-experts? input in scientific discourse.

David Stoellger M.A. is a doctoral candidate in the DFG Research Training Group 2073: Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research.

On Peer Review and Expertise
Ina Gawel M.A.
(University of Hannover, DFG Research Training Group 2073)

Given the growing discussion about the benefits and future of pre-publication peer review (Grimaldo, Maru?i?, and Squazzoni 2018; Heesen and Bright 2020), the question arises as to expectations of peer review as quality control and those who carry out this control. A recurring criticism is that reports would be unhelpful or even unprofessional (Mavrogenis, Quaile, and Scarlat 2020). In this talk, I argue for expanding the notion of expertise in the context of peer review. The peer review of a submission is tantamount to a review by experts. This understanding, however, refers solely to the scientific expertise of the reviewers. Expertise in carrying out reviews has not been considered so far, although awareness of its importance is growing: Some stakeholders already offer training for reviewers (Elsevier, 2021; Wiley, 2021). Using examples of such training, I explore whether these offerings are sufficient to impart peer review expertise. Finally, I will discuss which measures are desirable to implement an expanded notion of expertise in the context of peer review.

About the speaker
Ina Gawel M.A. is a doctoral candidate in the DFG Research Training Group 2073: Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research.

Time: 16:30-20:00, 10 September 2021 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.003

Alexander Christian  
(Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf)


Julia Mirkin  
(Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf)


Testability and Meaning deco