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What Is Epistemic Public Trust in Science?

We provide an analysis of the public's having warranted epistemic trust in science, that is, the conditions under which the public may be said to have well-placed trust in the scientists as providers of information. We distinguish between basic and enhanced epistemic trust in science and provide necessary conditions for both. We then present the controversy regarding the (alleged) connection between autism and measles–mumps–rubella vaccination as a case study to illustrate our analysis. The realization of warranted epistemic public trust in science requires various societal conditions, which we briefly introduce in the concluding section.

1.  Introduction

2.  Basic Epistemic Trust in Science

3.  Deciding Whom to Trust

4.  Enhanced Epistemic Trust in Science

5.  A Case Study: The Alleged Causal Link between MMR Vaccination and Autism

5.1.  A brief overview of the MMR controversy: The scientific perspective

5.2.  The public's perspective

5.3.  Enhanced epistemic trust in the MMR controversy

6.  Conclusion