CFP: René Descartes Lectures “Science, Values and Democracy” (Heather Douglas), Tilburg/NL

The 5th René Descartes Lectures & Workshop "Science, Values and Democracy"

5-7 September 2016

Professor Heather Douglas, University of Waterloo

Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS)


Matthew J. Brown (UT Dallas)
Rafaela Hillerbrand (KIT)
Arthur Petersen (UCL) 
Kristina Rolin (Helsinki)
Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam)
Torsten Wilholt (Hannover)

Every other year, a distinguished philosopher visits Tilburg University and the Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics and Philosophy of Science to present the René Descartes Lectures. This year’s René Descartes Lecturer is Professor Heather Douglas (University of Waterloo). Professor Douglas will deliver three lectures on the topic “Science, Values and Democracy”, each of which will be commented on by two renowned scholars.

Parallel to the lectures, we host a workshop on the same topic. For this workshop, we invite submissions in the form of extended abstracts (up to 1000 words) by 15 May 2016. Notifications will be sent out by 1 June 2016.

For more information, visit the website mentioned above.


The lectures will explore the relationships among science, values, and expertise in modern democratic societies. Science, although the best way to gain rich empirical knowledge, cannot be considered value-free. As such, scientists’ role in public discourse and in advisory roles is more complex than simply giving us “the facts.” In democratic societies, we must confront questions of how to make science advising appropriately accountable in our political systems, while protecting scientists from pressures which would damage the integrity of their advice. In the public discourse, citizens have more roles to play than simply being passive receivers of scientific information. This means we need to articulate these roles and create avenues for exercising them. Because of the need for values in science and because this opens science to new modes of engagement and criticism, we need to think through our institutional structures to ensure that the normative demands of good science and good governance can both be met.


Silvia Ivani (TiLPS)
Jan Sprenger (TiLPS)


Marcel Boumans (Utrecht University)
Thomas Boyer-Kassem (Tilburg University)
Ingo Brigandt (University of Alberta)
Matthew Brown (University of Texas at Dallas)
Matteo Colombo (Tilburg University)
Helen De Cruz (Oxford Brookes University)
Kevin Elliott (Michigan State University)
Raoul Gervais (Tilburg University)
Rafaela Hillerbrand (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)
Kristen Intemann (Montana State University)
Arthur Petersen (University College London)
Julian Reiss (Durham University)
Kristina Rolin (University of Helsinki)
Eric Schliesser (University of Amsterdam)
Daniel Steel (University of British Columbia)
Torsten Wilholt (Leibniz-Universität Hannover)
Naftali Weinberger (Tilburg University)

Alison Wylie (University of Washington)