4 december: Responsibility without expert witnesses

Studium Generale van Wageningen Universiteit organiseert drie avonden rondom mijn boek Don’t Be Fooled: A Philosophy of Common Sense.

Derde avond: Responsibility without expert witnesses

Truth claims always involve obligations and entitlements. If I say that something is the case anyone authorised to question me — and there seem to be sufficient reasons to argue that any human being is potentially authorised in this respect — is entitled to do so and gives me sufficient reason to be obliged to answer and to give my reasons for my assertion. This social practice of giving and asking for reasons is a crucial feature of our human condition. It creates our typically human sphere of responsibility. Responsibility is an interactive accomplishment that does not allow for a final word other than in a temporal sense: the last word spoken so far. It is crucial about this last word that it never takes the form of a final answer but always takes the form of a new question. The resulting conversation of mankind will never end. This implies an important lesson for the ways in which laypeople and experts should learn to listen to one another.

Overkoepeld idee: The Force of Common Sense

What is our common sense worth in times of fake-news, Brexit and viral going anti-vaccination? You can’t be an expert in everything, but can we rely then without worries on our common sense? How to stand firm against an army of experts and at the same time defend your own expertise? Can we defend both science and common sense? In these lectures Jan Bransen (Radboud University) will explore the importance of a range of questions that might not be best reformulated so as to make them appropriate for a scientific approach, but that nevertheless deserve each person’s serious, systematic and intellectual attention.