Professor Michael Kenny, Director of the Bennett Institute, is to be Co-Investigator for a major new project, ‘Expertise under Pressure’, led by the Cambridge Centre for the Humanities and Social Change.
This research project aims to explore what makes expertise authoritative in the context of recent well-publicised failures by experts and policy-makers, and the increasing need for expertise in a world which is becoming ever more complex, both technically and politically. The researchers will ask what make some experts influential at particular moments and examines the expectations that we place upon them.
Does the problem lie with the very idea that objective expertise about complex processes is attainable? Or does it stem from the way that expert judgment is developed and communicated? Or, perhaps it reflects the diminished standing of experts and expert knowledge in democratic and pluralistic societies?
Led by Principal Investigator Dr Anna Alexandrova, with fellow co-Investigators, Dr Emily So and Dr Robert Doubleday, the project will consider three cases where expert judgement is deemed critical: the UK government’s emergency response, the use of agglomeration theory in city planning, and deep philosophical debate about the possibility and objectivity of social science.
The overarching goal of the project is to establish a broad framework for understanding what makes expertise authoritative, when experts overreach, and what realistic demands communities should place on experts.