1. Exploring Dimensions of Epistemic Intimidation

In cooperation with M. Fernández Pinto (Bogotá)

Funded by the DFG (Oct 21 – Sept 24)

Scientists, just like journalists, politicians, and intellectuals investigating and stressing the importance and recalcitrance of social and environmental problems such as anthropogenic climate change or the issues of sexism and racism, have increasingly come under attack by right-wing populists, even in democratic countries. These attacks are regularly framed as nothing more than normal instances of criticism: populists invoke freedom of speech and praise the epistemic value of controversies. Indeed, the free exchange of opinions is actually essential for epistemic advancement. However, justifying such attacks on the grounds of free speech seems highly questionable. Rather, under this pseudo-idealistic guise, the attacks appear to be aimed more towards stifling unwanted opinions and manipulating public debates in service of certain political aims.

The project’s core aim is a clearer understanding of the systematic intimidation of scientists and how it affects scientific practice. Systematic means that the attacks against (individual) scientists create an atmosphere of intimidation in science that affects the dynamics of scientific advancement and, thus, epistemic progress.

In order to address a hermeneutic lacuna in the philosophy of science (and beyond), the concept of epistemic intimidation will be introduced, thus denoting the systematic intimidation of scientists that comes at a high epistemic price. The phenomenon will be explored by analyzing methods of systematic intimidation in science, identifying and classifying the epistemic effects of systematic intimidation in science, subsequently introducing the concept of epistemic intimidation on this basis, and discussing how to deal with epistemic intimidation in science. To investigate these three points, findings from science studies will be combined with linguistic analyses and well-established models and concepts from feminist studies, especially studies on gender discrimination in science and its epistemic damage, and virtue epistemological studies.

2. Transformations of Science and Technology since 1800: Topics, Processes, Institutions

Since 2022, I have been a PI in the DFG Research Training Group (Graduiertenkolleg) 2696 “Transformations of Science and Technology since 1800: Topics, Processes, Institutions” at Bergische Universität Wuppertal.