5th René Descartes Lectures 2016

Science, Values and Democracy

Professor Heather Douglas, University of Waterloo


5-7 September 2016

Tilburg University, The Netherlands


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.

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It is a great pleasure to announce that Professor Heather Douglas (University of Waterloo) is this year’s René Descartes Lecturer. Professor Douglas will deliver three lectures, each of which will be commented on by two renowned scholars.


Workshop “Science, Values and Democracy”

Beside Professor Douglas’ lectures and the invited commentaries, there will also be a workshop on the topic of Science, Values and Democracy for which we cordially invite contributions. Click here for more details.

Synopsis of the lectures

This series of talks 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.

Visit the Lectures page for a more detailed description of the content of the lectures.