Symposium

Symposium The hidden moralities of Knowledge

Knowledge and technology are not neutral but mediate people’s relationships and practices. In this symposium, speakers from different disciplines will reflect on these hidden moral dimensions, drawing examples from topical areas such as brain science, psychological research on food and technological design. As many public debates on the science-society axis make clear, the question how to articulate these moralities and feed them into the public debate have become urgent matters.

Organisator Strategic Communication, Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)
Datum

do 28 augustus 2014 09:30 tot 13:00

Locatie Leeuwenborch, building number 201
Hollandseweg 1
201
6706 KN Wageningen
0317-483639
Zaal/kamer C62

Knowledge and technology are not neutral but mediate people’s relationships and practices. In this symposium, speakers from different disciplines will reflect on these hidden moral dimensions, drawing examples from topical areas such as brain science, psychological research on food and technological design. As many public debates on the science-society axis make clear, the question how to articulate these moralities and feed them into the public debate have become urgent matters.


Programme symposium
09:30 Welcome by Prof dr Hedwig te Molder (Wageningen University/University of
09:45 - 10:30 Prof dr Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Twente): Ethics from within: on technological mediation and moral appropriation
10:30 - 11:15 Prof dr Trudy Dehue (University of Groningen): Brain science, pharmaceutical ads, and the morality of self-reliance
11:15 - 11:30 Break
11:30 - 12:15 Dr Sally Wiggins (Strathclyde University, UK): The trouble with liking food: Using discursive psychology to re-consider our understanding of food preferences
12:15 - 13:00 Prof dr Tsjalling Swierstra (Maastricht University): Keeping morals on the table

 If you would like to take part in the symposium, please send an email to info.cpt@wur.nl

Inaugural lecture

After the symposium Prof dr Hedwig te Molder will hold her inaugural speech, entitled

The Hidden Moralities of Knowledge
Communicating Science and Technology in the Life Science Context

 at the University Auditorium, Generaal Foulkesweg 1a, 6703 BG Wageningen.

The Dutch documentary Raw (2008) shows a child who has only eaten raw food since he was five. The mother is accused of not feeding her child well and ultimately even of child abuse. While some may suspect the mother of being anti-scientific, she constantly refers to the evidence that underpins her actions. However extreme this situation may be, it resembles in important respects other recurrent societal conflicts about particular (life) science domains.

In my inaugural lecture, I will argue that these conflicts should not be understood as a collision between two worlds apart, namely that of scientific truth and that of lay concerns. Nor should the key question be formulated as ‘how to convince people who persist in believing things that just aren’t true’.

For this to understand, we need to shift our attention to the hidden moralities of knowledge. Rather than being neutral, knowledge and technology are mediators of human relations and practices, in short, of morality. Knowledge claims are used to attribute or deny responsibilities and negotiate one’s identity. These concealed moralities should be articulated and become part of the public debate in order to make a real conversation possible.

Conversation analysis and discursive psychology offer unique perspectives for doing so, as they view knowledge as both mundane and deeply moral. They reveal how people in their communication indirectly refer to what is normal or proper, thereby making sense of their own and other people’s actions. Using topical examples from debates about good food, healthy nutrition and the ‘realness’ of ADHD, I will argue that the dialogue should (also) be on who we want to be rather than (only) about what we believe to be true.