Workshop on Epistemic Intimidation


Scientists investigating and stressing the importance and recalcitrance of social, health, and environmental problems, such as anthropogenic climate change, COVID-19, 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.
This creates an atmosphere of intimidation in science that affects the dynamics of scientific practice and, thus, scientific progress. During this conference, we seek to get a better understanding of this phenomenon of “epistemic intimidation”.

Presentations and discussion will include topics as broad as:

  • Limits of the epistemic benefits of diversity in science and of scientific freedom
  • Attacks against science
  • Epistemic vices in science
  • Ignorance production
  • Political values in contemporary research/politicization of science
  • Gender or racial dimensions of exclusion in science
  • Interaction between scientists and the public

Date & Location

May 25-26, 2023
Bergische Universität Wuppertal


The workshop is organized by Manuela Fernández Pinto and Anna Leuschner. It is funded by the DFG as part of the project “Exploring Dimensions of Epistemic Intimidation“.