SG – What’s in our Facts?

What differentiates a fact from mere opinion? Are there facts that are better than others? And what makes up for the difference?

Organisator Studium Generale

di 8 februari 2022 20:00

Locatie Impulse, gebouwnummer 115

About What’s in our Facts?

Just like the ingredients of food, the ingredients of scientific facts shape people’s lives. This is because ranges of normative criteria and definitions precede scientific fact production. For instance, poverty research is based on a normative definition of poverty, that subsequently shape poverty policies. And testing the efficacy of an antidepressant is based on normative definitions of both efficacy and depression, that subsequently shape depression treatments. This is not to say, though, that facts are mere opinions. Tonight, emeritus professor of philosophy, history and sociology of science Trudy Dehue argues that some facts can be better than others, not so much because they represent a pre-given reality, but because they are more thoroughly warranted in a philosophical, ethical and social sense. Stated differently, apart from statistical precision ‘deliberative precision’ constitutes the difference between ‘facts’ and ‘opinions’. This implies that researchers need much more time for thorough reflection as well as open democratic knowledge-production  than is most often granted to them.

About series ‘Who Knows?’

How do you know what you know?

Who decides who knows? And how can we understand and value different claims to knowledge?

In this series we invite you to dive into these large questions.

About Trudy Dehue

Photo: Inge Hoogland, KNAW
Photo: Inge Hoogland, KNAW

Trudy Dehue is emeritus professor of philosophy, history and sociology of science at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. She published on the ingredients of scientific knowledge made with randomized controlled trials, or produced in psychiatric research and brain research. Currently she works on a book about how researchers, through the ages, arrived at facts about human eggs, embryos and fetuses. She currently works on a book preliminary entitled Een geschiedenis van zwangerschap. Wat classificaties doen (A history of pregnancy. What classifications do).