Epistemic Networks and Bad Believing: A Workshop in Social Epistemology

November 16, 2023 - November 17, 2023
Philosophy Institute, Technische Universität Dresden

Open Science Lab, room OSL 3
Zellescher Weg 25
Dresden 01217

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

This event is available both online and in-person


Universität Hamburg

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We live in the age of strange conspiracy theories, fake news and “alternative truths”: from Pizza-gate and 5G conspiracies, to denying the results of properly organized elections and climate skepticism, many people seem to accept as true claims that are in no way substantiated by evidence.

Why do people hold such "bad beliefs" (Levy 2021)? While it is customary, in traditional analytic epistemology, to study the individual features of people's epistemic position (their reliability, their epistemic virtues or vices etc.) in order to understand how they arrive at knowledge or end up with bad beliefs, recent work in social epistemology has pointed to the importance of epistemic networks in elucidating this matter. People’s beliefs, especially when it comes to social and political matters that pertain to their identity, are often shaped by the social networks the individuals are embedded in.

In this workshop, we aim to discuss the way bad believing (i.e., believing in scientifically unsubstantiated claims that concern vaccines, climate change, migration etc.) is shaped by the epistemic networks of the believers.

While recent research on epistemic networks comes especially from philosophy of science and from the study of communities of scientists, our hope is that the study of epistemic networks can be helpful for understanding the epistemic behaviour of non-scientists as well. The calls for understanding the mechanisms of bad believing in the political domain (and the ameliorative tools for overcoming dangerous political beliefs) are more and more urgent. As many have pointed out, the health not only of our democracies, but of the climate itself might be at stake.


Thursday, the 16th of November 2023

09:00 - 10:30 > Mark Alfano (Macquarie University) - Personality, social network, and natural language approaches to intellectual humility and its correlative vices 

11:00 - 12:30 > Mandi Astola (Delft University of Technology) - Mandevillian Vices in Epistemic Networks 

15:30 - 17:00 > Dunja Šešelja and Matteo Michelini (Ruhr University Bochum) - The Misinterpretation Effect: How Sci-ence Benefits from Evidence Misinterpretation

17:30 - 19:00 > Cailin O’Connor (University of California, Irvine) - Virtues, Vices, and Networks: How networks trans-form the epistemic impacts of individual behaviors


Thursday, the 16th of November 2023

09:00 - 10:30 > Sergiu Spatan (Dresden University of Technology) - The Role of Strong Ties in Holding (and Avoiding) Bad Beliefs

11:00 - 12:30 > Patricia Rich (University of Bayreuth) and Emmanuel Genot (Lund University) - Mutually Expected Rationality in Online Sharing 

14:00 - 15:30 > Sven Engeßer (Dresden University of Technology) - Climate Change and Social Identity 

16:00 - 17:30 > Thomas Grundmann (University of Cologne) - Epistemic Nudging as Antidote to Bad Beliefs 


This is a hybrid event. In person, at Open Science Lab, room OSL 3, Zellescher Weg 25, 01217 Dresden. Digitally, via Zoom, upon registration.

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November 15, 2023, 11:45pm CET

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The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

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#Dresden, #Epistemic Networks, #Social Epistemology