CFP: Interdisciplinarity and Expert Disagreement in Sustainability Research Uncovering the Philosophical Biases of Scientific Controversies

Submission deadline: February 10, 2020

Conference date(s):
June 8, 2020 - June 9, 2020

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Conference Venue:

Centre for Applied Philosophy of Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Oslo, Norway

Topic areas


CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Interdisciplinarity and Expert Disagreement in Sustainability Research: Uncovering the Philosophical Biases of Scientific Controversies

MINI-CONFERENCE, 8-9 June 2020, NMBU Centre for Applied Philosophy of Science, Aas, Norway

Research and practice for a sustainable future require that we synchronise efforts from multiple fronts. Experts from different fields must think, evaluate and act as a team. For this, we need a common academic culture and to speak a common language. And yet, it is hard to find a topic on sustainability that is free from scientific controversy: food production and consumption, GMOs, solar panels, nudging, fish farming, electric cars, etc.

This mini-conference is part of an interdisciplinary training course which aims to train professionals of tomorrow to tackle problems together rather than separated by different disciplines and academic cultures. The goal is to enable students to identify, understand and critically discuss some implicit, foundational and non-empirical sources of interdisciplinary disagreement and scientific controversies.

This is not only a practical challenge, but one that stems from foundational premises in science. Every subject matter is situated within a paradigm where the scientific framework is set: theories, concepts, methods, research agenda, etc. Some academic cultures are very explicit about what is 'allowed' or 'accepted' practice, while in others it will be more difficult to discover the boundaries before stepping over them.

The aim of the mini-conference is to show how philosophical biases (basic implicit assumptions in science) can influence theory, models, methodological choices, evidence evaluation, predictions and interpretation of results, by looking at some real-life cases of scientific disagreements.

We are particularly interested in concrete examples and cases where philosophical biases (conceptual, epistemological, ethical or ontological) play an important role in scientific controversies. In medicine, for instance, whether one assumes holism, dualism or reductionism, will motivate different takes on the discussion about the universal validity of the biomedical model and the strict division between psyche and soma. (See ‘Philosophical bias is the one bias that science cannot avoid’ for other examples.)

Talks should contain case studies that are representative for one or more of the following topics:

  • philosophical bias as a source of academic disagreement
  • epistemological and methodological tensions in and between disciplines
  • ethics and dilemmas of sustainability

Please submit an abstract (300-800 words) by 10 February 2020 to [email protected]. Note that the students attending the conference do not have a philosophical background, so all presentations must be targeted at a multi-disciplinary audience (technical terms explained, clear examples, and so on).

We have some funds to cover travel and accommodation up to 600 Euros per person.

Organising committee: Rani Lill Anjum and Elena Rocca, NMBU CAPS

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