Public engagement and argumentation in science

Silvia Ivani, Catarina Dutilh Novaes*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Public engagement is one of the fundamental pillars of the European programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020. The programme encourages engagement that not only fosters science education and dissemination, but also promotes two-way dialogues between scientists and the public at various stages of research. Establishing such dialogues between different groups of societal actors is seen as crucial in order to attain epistemic as well as social desiderata at the intersection between science and society. However, whether these dialogues can actually help attaining these desiderata is far from obvious. This paper discusses some of the costs, risks, and benefits of dialogical public engagement practices, and proposes a strategy to analyse these argumentative practices based on a three-tiered model of epistemic exchange. As a case study, we discuss the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy, arguably a result of suboptimal public engagement, and show how the proposed model can shed new light on the problem.
Original languageEnglish
Article number54
Number of pages29
JournalEuropean Journal for Philosophy of Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2022


  • Public engagement
  • Responsible research and innovation
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • Argumentation
  • Trust in science


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