Trusting (and) the Law

16 - 20 January 2017

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

If you are invited or already registered for this workshop, you have received login details by email.

Objectives and outline of the workshop

This workshop should not be seen as an end, but as a beginning. The workshop should result in a coherent and innovative (draft) research agenda, aiming at applications to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and/or the European Research Council (ERC) for future interdisciplinary research on the origins of trust and its interaction with law. In order to arrive at such an agenda, we want to bring together an international group of experts on the topic of trust from all corners of academia, such as neuroscience, cognitive and social psychology, behavioral economics, the social and political sciences, law, and criminology. With this unique amalgam of interdisciplinary expertise, we aim to pave the way towards convergence of the various epistemic and methodological approaches in trust research. We will do so by discussing the following questions:

-              What do we consider trust to be? And how do we distinguish it from other concepts at different levels of analysis and abstraction? How do we conduct research into trust? How do we conceptualize and operationalize trust?

-              How does trust increase? And how does it decrease?

-              How does the law interact with trust; how do the two relate? To what extent can and should lawyers and law itself promote trust? And to what extend do they depend on trust? Under what conditions is law a suitable instrument for enhancing and fostering trust?

-              Where does the appeal for “fostering trust” come from? Is it really necessary, and is it really possible for lawyers and law to foster trust? What is the correlation between attempts to foster trust and the real behavior of individuals and groups?

In order to lay the foundations for a sustainable and productive interdisciplinary collaboration, it is crucial that every participant benefits from the workshop week. Legal scholars should arrive at a better understanding of the origins and features of trust and of the way law interacts with it, but scholars from other disciplines should also benefit from the workshop to better grasp how trust could be institutionalized in legal systems (and also the way trust reacts to institutionalization in law and in legal and other policy-making institutions).

Starting three months before the workshop week, the organizers will encourage the participants to take part in an online platform, where they can actively exchange questions, views and knowledge before the start of the workshop. The purpose of this approach is to stimulate interaction, commitment, and productivity during the workshop and to prevent participants from staying inside the comfort zone of their respective disciplines. Participants will be invited to engage in topics that are not primarily of their expertise. The online platform will also help to sharpen and adjust the questions and case studies that are to be discussed during the workshop week. We are open to any advice and help from the Lorentz Center to make the pre-workshop interaction as fruitful and effective as possible.

                During the workshop week, the first day (Monday) serves an introductory purpose. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday start with plenary sessions structured around keynote lectures on the theme of the day. Each session will be chaired or moderated by one of the prominent senior participants. The three (provisional) day themes are: 1) implied trust conceptions in private law and economy; 2) trust in criminal law and judicial legitimacy; 3) trust in democratic institutions and regulatory authorities. The opening lectures are followed by plenary discussions: what problems are yet unsolved? How can scholars from different fields of research help each other? What data do we need? After the plenary sessions, small teams–consisting of a mix of disciplines and of seniority–will work separately on different case studies that link to the day theme. All teams will report back to each other in a plenary closing session at the end of the afternoon. On Friday, the workshop concludes with a closing session to summarize the discussions and results of the week, to draw up the (draft) agenda for future research, and to divide the tasks to elaborate these plans.


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