The editors of a forthcoming (2017) special issue of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry on “Investigating public trust in expert knowledge: ethics, narrative and engagement” are currently inviting submission of papers.
The special issue will be the first of its kind to examine the ethics of public trust in expert knowledge systems in emergent and complex global societies. Through an interdisciplinary approach, it will draw from contributions in bioethics, the social sciences and the medical humanities.
Trust pervades personal, social and political life. Basic trust is seen as the foundation of self, trust figures in the everyday reciprocity of social relations, and governmentality is imbued with questions of trust and distrust. Trust in expert knowledge (i.e. willingness to believe, endorse and enact expert advice) has emerged as a problem for governments seeking to engage and influence publics on matters as wide-ranging as public policy on the environment and economic development, biopolitics, and wellbeing over the life course. The knowledge systems which support climate change policy have been criticized and even refuted, leading to public policy challenges for action on climate. The uptake of vaccines in populations appears to be eroding and scientific/ethical controversies have marked the field. The emerging ‘superbugs’ crisis requires that publics engage with the idea that antimicrobials are no longer available to the extent they once were. Biotechnological interventions in reproductive life and health are subject to changed expectations for expert and consumer rights and responsibilities. The recent explosion of the CRISPR genome editing debate has brought with it socio-technical expectations (e.g. CRISPR technologies as a panacea for a world rid of diseases from birth, and some say even of ageing), together with fears of eugenics and a return to the discourse of designer babies, which now seem a possibility. Public life is marked also by the questions of trust, knowledge and ethics implicated in end-of-life decision making, related controversy over physician-assisted suicide and other questions of life’s limits. Against this backdrop of troubled trust, expert knowledge and changing bio/ thanopolitics, how can governments engage publics? How do public communications take effect? How do experts and publics narrate trust? What are the ethical ramifications of efforts to garner, sustain or regain public trust? As some have argued, are we already post-trust and therefore in alternative modes of public engagement with the idea of collective life?
Contributions are solicited from the above disciplines that look at the role of narratives in the construction and deconstruction of public trust in expert knowledge and at ethical or unethical ways of engaging with the publics on a variety of topics, including but not limited to:
- sustainability and climate change
- public policy and economic development
- vaccination and other biotechnologies
- emerging infectious diseases, including superbugs
- reproductive health
- provider-consumer relations in health care and beyond
- genetics, including genome editing technologies (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9)
- end-of-life decision making
We seek contributions that apply narrative approaches to bioethics, sociology, and medical humanities.
The special issue will consist of 8-10 contributions that employ a variety of methodological approaches for a recommended length of 7,000-7,500 words each.
Instructions for authors for submission to JBI can be found here:
Abstract Submission and Timeline
Extended abstract of 750 words should be submitted to Dr Silvia Camporesi by January 25, 2016. Please clearly state in your abstract the methodology you are employing in your paper, and how your contribution addresses the topic of the special issue ‘‘Investigating public trust in expert knowledge: ethics, narrative and engagement’.
A decision on the abstract will be notified by Feb 15, 2016.
Full papers are expected by May 1, 2016.
Reviewed papers will be returned to authors by August 1, 2016.
Revised papers are expected by October 1, 2016.
The special issue is expected to appear in print in June 2017.
For inquiries contact Dr Silvia Camporesi: firstname.lastname@example.org