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Professor Anna Alexandrova: How can thick concepts be legitimate in science?

Wednesday 9 February 2022, 4.00PM to 5:30pm

Speaker(s): Professor Anna Alexandrova, University of Cambridge

Thick concepts, namely those concepts that describe and evaluate simultaneously, present a challenge to science. Since science does not have a monopoly on value judgments, what is responsible research involving such concepts? Using measurement of wellbeing as an example, we first present the options open to researchers wishing to study phenomena denoted by such concepts. We argue that while it is possible to treat these concepts as technical terms, or to make the relevant value judgment in-house, the responsible thing to do, especially in the context of public policy, is to make this value judgment through a legitimate political process that includes all the stakeholders of this research. We then develop a participatory model of measurement based on the ideal of co-production. To show that this model is feasible and realistic, we illustrate it with a case study of co-production of a concept of thriving conducted by the authors in collaboration with a UK anti-poverty charity Turn2us.

Location: This event will take place on Zoom. The link will be shared in advance of the talk.

Admission: Departmental Colloquium members and postgraduate students