Conventions in Science: Epistemic, Ethical and Conceptual Perspectives (Affiliated workshop with SoPHiA 2022)

September 8, 2022
University of Salzburg


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Conventions in Science: Epistemic, Ethical and Conceptual Perspectives

(Affiliated workshop with SoPHiA 2022:

Keynote Speaker: Professor Quill R Kukla - “Maps and the Epistemic Risks of Visual Representations”

Date and time: 8th September 2022 16:30-20:00 CET

Location: Salzburg, Austria

Format: Hybrid

This workshop addresses the nature and roles of conventions in science. As a form of collective inquiry, scientists are frequently bound by communal rules and standards - what we might call ‘conventions’ - that prescribe how to conduct research: from the choice of p-values in statistical hypothesis testing to the proper storage of lab samples and the visualization of data. Despite the ubiquity and centrality of conventions in science, we thus far lack a thorough understanding of them. What exactly are conventions in science? What epistemic function do they serve? What gives conventions their normative force? And, under what conditions, if any, may researchers properly violate conventions? 

During this workshop, we aim to explore such questions from a range of philosophical perspectives and build a community of researchers interested in scientific conventions. We aim to establish links between conventions in science and contemporary debates on ‘bias’ in science, the conditions for ‘epistemic trust’ in science, the nature of scientific ‘objectivity’, the causes of the ‘replication crisis’ and the proper response to the ‘value-ladenness’ of science, among other relevant topics. Correspondingly, we welcome a broad range of contributions addressing the topic of methodological conventions with an eye towards these broader themes. We also aim to link conventions in science to broader work in general philosophy on conventions in other domains, such as language. We particularly encourage contributions that draw on the actual practice of science.

We are delighted to welcome Professor Quill R Kukla from Georgetown University as our keynote speaker. They will be presenting a talk entitled “Maps and the Epistemic Risks of Visual Representations” based on their fascinating new research on the value-ladenness of cartography. 

Topics we aim to explore include (but are not restricted to):

  • In what sense, if any, are scientific conventions different from conventions governing our daily lives?

  • How are conventions in science established and how ought they be established?

  • How are scientific conventions upheld and how can they be changed? In what sense(s) do methodological conventions ‘progress’? 

  • Under what conditions, if any, is violating conventions justified? 

  • What is the epistemic purpose of establishing methodological conventions? 

  • Under what conditions do conventions successfully perform their epistemic functions? 

  • What is the relationship between conventions and the establishment of trust in science and scientific objectivity? 

  • What role do conventions play in mitigating epistemic injustices as well as political, social or epistemic biases?

  • Do conventions promote the democratization of science or undermine it? 

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