T.Y. Branch


I am a philosopher of science investigating values and their implications for public engagement and trust in science.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at the Cologne Center for Contemporary Epistemology and the Kantian Tradition (CONCEPT) working on the project "Moral obligation, epistemology and public health: the case of vaccine hesitancy".


I was a postdoctoral researcher at Institut Jean Nicod, an analytic-oriented interdisciplinary research centre combining philosophy, social science and cognitive science. This was part of the EU Horizon 2020 project: Policy, Expertise and Trust in Action (PEriTiA) studying affective and normative factors that play a role in decisions to trust.


Photo of Me

My research on values is aimed at addressing normative questions pertaining to how values are presented in science communication. A large part of this work is informed by my doctorate. I combined historical research with philosophical critique to examine the erasure of non-epistemic (e.g. personal, social, political) values from science communication.

I argue that the value-free ideal (VFI) for science --the dominant ideal for science from the Cold War until the end of the 20th century-- minimizes the importance of non-epistemic values in science, which influences the selection of science education and communication models.

This is a philosophical problem because although the VFI been identified as the wrong ideal for science, its legacy continues to misrepresent science as value-free, making it less engaging, and contributing to a crisis of trust in science.

My dissertation "Contextualizing Science for Value-Conscious Communication" about this topic, can be found here.

For a short CV, see here.


"Hylozoic Ground", part of the Canada Pavilion Facility designed by Philip Beesley for the Venice Biennale. Image by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.


Near-living architecture incorporates biological features into environments that are responsive to occupants in that space. The structures pictured, are mini ecosystems — chemically infused with biologically active layers — that undergo actions like osmosis. They react and change in relation to inhabitants of the space. My research asked what applications near-living architecture might have with respect to understanding theories of emergence.

For information and interviews about my Philosopher-in-Residence research in architecture see here and here. For more on near-living architecture, see Philip Beesley Architect Inc.


Photo of Me in front of 'Hylozoic ground'
In a computer room

I also have ongoing work in the philosophy of data science. By integrating myself in a data science laboratory I uncovered how the non-epistemic values of scientists impact research decisions and the consequences of these values in a broader societal context.

As part of this research project, I developed a novel 'value-conscious' methodological contribution to collaborative socio-technical integration --a science and technology studies (STS) method for humanities scholars wanting to engage scientists directly.

With the transactional expertise in data science earned from this project, and my work on values in science as social indicators of trust, my upcoming research in this area will reconstruct the value-rich relationship between developers, AI and publics to understand how this interaction can go beyond mere reliance and encourage socially responsible data-based innovation.


For an interview about my integrated work in computer science and values see here.



Branch, T.Y. (2022) Enhanced Epistemic Trust and The Value-Free Ideal as a Social Indicator of TrustSocial Epistemology 36:5. https://doi.org/10.1080/02691728.2022.2114114.

Holst, Susan Owens, Folco Panizza, Silje Maria Tellmann, José van Dijck & Maria Baghramian (2022) A New Dark Age? Truth, Trust, and Environmental ScienceAnnual Review of Environment and Resources 47:1. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-120920-015909.

Branch, T.Y., Gloria Origgi & Tiffany Morisseau (2022) Why Trust Raoult? How Social Indicators Inform the Reputations of ExpertsSocial Epistemology 36:3, 299-316. https://doi.org/10.1080/02691728.2022.2042421.

Morisseau T., T.Y. Branch & Gloria Origgi (2021) Stakes of Knowing the Truth: A Motivational Perspective on the Popularity of a Controversial Scientific TheoryFront. Psychol 12:708751. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.708751.



The 28th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA)
"The Ecosystem of the VFI and its role in the New Demarcation Problem"
on 'The New Demarcation Problem symposium panel'
with Bennett Holman, Janet Kourany, Philip Kitcher and Heather Douglas
Pittsburgh (PA), USA
November 10 - 13

Learning from Experience: How Sharing Diverse National Approaches to Science Communication can lead to better solutions in Health, Climate, Energy, Food and Development
The Bellagio Centre (Lake Como), Italy
August 30 - September 3

Conférence Epistémologie et communication scientifique
"Une histoire des valeurs dans la communication scientifique"
Université de Lorraine (Nancy), France
June 30

Joint Research Centre (JRC) Science Summit
"Science advice in polarised times - managing values in the science policy interface"
with Heather Douglas, Mario Scharfbillig and Angela Pereira Guimaraes
June 13 - 15

The Ethics of Trust and Expertise Conference (PERITIA)
"Moral Obligation and Vaccine Hesitancy"
American University of Armenia (Yerevan), Armenia
May 31 - June 1


Universität zu Köln 

Philosophisches Seminar
50923 Köln

tbranchs [at] uni [dash] koeln [dot] de