"The Moral Deficit Model: Understanding the Role of Epistemic Consensus and Diversity"
As for the last graduate workshop of this semester, we will have Alexandra Calzavara presenting her work “The Moral Deficit Model: Understanding the Role of Epistemic Consensus and Diversity.” The workshop will take place on Wednesday, April 12th, 2023, from 12:00 to 1:30 pm (EST) at VC303, the IHPST Common Room/Lounge, on the third floor of Victoria College. This is a hybrid event. If you are planning to join the meeting via Zoom, please RSVP in advance through the following link: https://utoronto.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwkdeiqpzgtGNUCl5DQ1ylJzHqPPXa5s18M
For more details, please see the abstract below - and the attached poster.
The Moral Deficit Model: Understanding the Role of Epistemic Consensus and Diversity
On January 28th 2022, thousands of demonstrators––constituting the eponymic Freedom Convoy––arrived in Canada’s capital to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates by occupying Ottawa’s downtown core. Over the course of the occupation, over 50 articles about the Convoy were published on The Conversation, an academic publication platform that purports to uphold “academic rigour, journalistic flair”. With themes ranging from moral crisis to the speculative rise of alt-right populism, these articles expressed consensus about the Convoy’s implications—namely, that it was a threat to social democratic order. Despite The Conversation's stated commitment to academic rigor, I argue that the articles failed to meet such standards.
Given the current context of growing skepticism towards science, academics must scrutinize the production of expert knowledge, particularly in regards to the formation of consensus. Viewed through a lens of social epistemology, my research advocates for diverse expertise and discursive dissent as essential components of rigorous methodology in the production of knowledge. In addition to a lack of theoretical distinctions required of the disciplines represented, my qualitative research conducted on each article in The Conversation demonstrates widespread failure to include cited research to support arguments and the advancement of personal agendas under the guise of social scientific theory. I argue that these contributions ultimately constituted misinformation, undermining the epistemic values of academia and potentially resulting in public harm.