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T.Y. Branch

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

ABOUT ME

I am a philosopher of science investigating values and their implications for public engagement and trust in science. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at Institut Jean Nicod, an analytic-oriented interdisciplinary research centre combining philosophy, social science and cognitive science. Here I carry out research as a member of the EU Horizon 2020 project: Policy, Expertise and Trust in Action (PEriTiA) where we study affective and normative factors that play a role in deciding 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 my full CV, see here.

APPLIED PHILOSOPHY

Philosopher in Residence

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.

CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS AND SEMINARS

2021

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Institut Jean Nicod - Epistemic Norms
Département d'Etudes Cognitives

Ecole Normale Supérieure - PSL
75005 Paris, FRANCE.

ty [dot] branch [at] ens [dot] psl [dot] eu