The EPISTO team consisted of senior researcher/project leader Cathrine Holst, post doc John Moodie and PhD fellow Silje Tørnblad, in addition to research assistants. A central question for the project has been how to combine democratic procedures with the demands for knowledge based politics with wide use of experts and expertise. Holst has developed a typology for the classification and evaluation of expertise based arrangements, and she has discussed solutions in terms of «mechanisms for holding experts accountable». Moodie has studied the European Commission's use of expertise. He has undertaken a range of interviews and analysed key documents on the Commission's use of research and expertise. Moodie has also led the work on completing the project's database with information on the Commission's expert group system. In her doctoral research, Tørnblad has analysed the work of the Commission's expert groups, based on observations as well as information from the project's database. The project has hosted guest researcher Torbjørn Gundersen who has completed his article "Scientists as experts in policy-making - a separable role?" during his stay.
The project team has published a range of publications, in journals such as Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Acta Sociologica, Politics and Governance and West European Politics. Cathrine Holst has edited a special issue of the Journal of Social Epistemology with the title «Epistemic democracy, deliberative quality and expertise». This issue was published in 2017. Together with Magdalena Gora and Marta Warat, Holst published the anthology "Expertisation and Democracy in Europe" with Routledge in 2018.
Research and results from the project has been presented at a number of seminars and conferences, and the participants have been invited to several workshops, nationally and internationally. From august 2015 to June 2016, Silje Tørnblad was a visiting researcher at the Department of Political Science at UC Berkeley, California. In addition to working on her thesis and engaging with members of faculty with similar research interests, she took part in the seminars and other day to day activities at the department, including presentation of one of her papers at a research seminar.
EPISTO has organized several workshops over the course of the project. Cathrine Holst has established strong ties to the Quality of Government (QoG) institute at the University of Gothenburg, with a guest researcher affiliation in 2014. In cooperation with Bo Rothstein, QoG Gøteborg and Oxford University, Holst organized and chaired the panel "Was Plato Right? Should the Experts Rule?" at the ECPR Joint Sessions in Pisa on 24-28 April 2016. Holst and Tørnblad presented a co-authored paper at the panel, and Tørnblad also presented a paper. EPISTO also organised the workshop "Expertise and Democratic Accountability in Courts and Public Administration" on 30-31 May 2016 in Rome, in cooperation with the Centre of Excellence PluriCourts and the UiO-programme on Democracy as idea and practice. The workshop included discussion of 13 papers, including one by Cathrine Holst, and also two keynote lectures by David Dyzenhaus and Heather Douglas.
The EPISTO website: http://www.sv.uio.no/arena/english/research/projects/episto/index.html
Modern societies are dependent on scientific and professional expertise. What does this fact imply for our normative ideas of legitimate political rule? If more power to the experts can help save the climate, the economy, health, security and whatever els e we value - why not embrace it? Why stick to ideas of 'rule by the people' in a world that is in urgent need of decisions based on our best knowledge? Why not opt for some kind of 'epistocracy' - a 'rule by the knowers'?
EPISTO will offer a sophisticat ed response to these questions that is up to date both with philosophical analysis of democracy, legitimacy and political rule and the wide range of empirical scholarship that investigate modern and globalized societies' expertise dependence. EPISTO will be organized around three subprojects. 1) What does epistocracy mean? Developing a typology; 2); Limits to expert rule? Political legitimacy and 'the fact of expertise'; 3) Expertise in Europe: empirical analysis and normative assessment.