Preview! Online first – selected articles from the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Public Trust in Expert Knowledge Symposium

Guest Editors: Dr Silvia Camporesi, Bioethics & Society, King’s College London, London UK; Dr Maria Vaccarella, Medical Humanities, University of Bristol, UK; Dr Mark Davis, Sociology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Trust_FreeImages.com_Berkeley-Robinson-470x260Timeline for publication

The special issue is expected to appear online in late January 2017 and in print in June 2017

Five articles are already available online ahead of print publication!


  1. Silvia Camporesi, Mark Davis and Maria Vaccarella, “Investigating Public Trust in Expert Knowledge:  Ethics, Narrative and Engagement”
  2. Katie Attwell, Julie Leask, Samantha Meyer, Philippa Rokkas, and Paul Ward, Murdoch University, Australia, Vaccine rejecting parents’ engagement with expert systems that inform vaccination Programs”
  3. Daniel Z. Buchman, Anita Ho, and Daniel S. Goldberg, University of Toronto, “Investigating Trust, Expertise, and Epistemic Injustice in Chronic Pain”
  4. Deborah Bowman, St George’s Medical School, University of London, “The Moral of the Tale: Stories, Trust and Public Engagement with Clinical Ethics via Radio and Theatre”
  5. Jennifer Edwell, and Jordynn Jack, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill “Gestational Diabetes Testing, Narrative, and Medical Distrust”
  6. Karen Anne-Wong, University of Sydney, Australia Donor Conception and ‘Passing’: Why Australian Parents of Donor-Conceived Children Want Donors Who Look Like Them

About the special issue:

Trust pervades personal, social and political life. Basic trust is seen as the foundation of self, trust figures in the everyday reciprocity of social relations, and governmentality is imbued with questions of trust and distrust. Trust in expert knowledge (i.e. willingness to believe, endorse and enact expert advice) has emerged as a problem for governments seeking to engage and influence publics on matters as wide-ranging as public policy on the environment and economic development, biopolitics, and wellbeing over the life course. The knowledge systems which support climate change policy have been criticized and even refuted, leading to public policy challenges for action on climate. The uptake of vaccines in populations appears to be eroding and scientific/ethical controversies have marked the field. The emerging ‘superbugs’ crisis requires that publics engage with the idea that antimicrobials are no longer available to the extent they once were. Biotechnological interventions in reproductive life and health are subject to changed expectations for expert and consumer rights and responsibilities. Against this backdrop of troubled trust, expert knowledge and changing bio/ thanopolitics, how can governments engage publics? How do public communications take effect? How do experts and publics narrate trust? What are the ethical ramifications of efforts to garner, sustain or regain public trust? As some have argued, are we already post-trust and therefore in alternative modes of public engagement with the idea of collective life?

This special issue is the first of its kind to examine the ethics of public trust in expert knowledge systems in emergent and complex global societies. Through an interdisciplinary approach, it draws from contributions in bioethics, the social sciences and the medical humanities.

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