COST Action CA17132 - APPLY
European Network for Argumentation and Public Policy Analysis


APPLY TV is a new series of online talks organised by the COST Action project CA17132: European Network for Argumentation and Public Policy Analysis (APPLY). Its main theme is public argumentation investigated from any of the theoretical perspectives present in the Action: philosophy, linguistics, communication, discourse analysis, computer science, psychology. Each speaker presents her or his most recent work on argumentation in compact episodes of 1hr, with 30 min dedicated to the presentation and 30 min to discussion.

Season 1 starts in February 2021 and includes 6 episodes. Please check below for titles, cast of characters, and our broadcast schedule.

Please join each episode by registering via the Zoom links provided. If you can’t participate in person, each episode will also be broadcast live,and later available as video on demand.

Please tune in and stay tuned. We hope you enjoy the show.


Season 1
Episode 1 
Wednesday 17/02/2021  16:00 CET

Blurts hurt! How bad science communication can derail public discourse on Covid-19
The pandemic of Covid-19 has given science, and in particular medical science, a very prominent role in public debate: the social perception of healthcare professionals has been subverted almost overnight – from slightly distrusted technicians to much revered heroes in the fight against the virus. In turn, this has given them unprecedented media exposure, making their voice extremely influential in the public discourse on Covid-19. Overall, this is a necessary and welcome development, one that carries the promise of improving evidence-based policies and promoting sounder scientific understanding of the facts about the pandemic. However, with great power comes great responsibility: suddenly thrown into the spotlight of a media frenzy, with little preparation on how to handle their newfound communicative role, many medical professionals have been struggling to articulate a clear and effective message, in spite of their technical competence. In this talk I will analyze two prominent examples of this argumentative discomfort: a public disagreement between two medical experts on the severity of the virus at the very beginning of the pandemic in Italy (February / March 2020), and a controversial statement on vaccines by a prominent microbiologist, few weeks before their formal approval from medical authorities (November 2020). I will discuss the argumentative shortcomings of both episodes, to highlight how the road to poor communication is often paved with good intentions. Time permitting, I will also comment on a more widespread argumentative pitfall in pandemic discourse: the obsessive use of the umbrella concept of “Covid-denier” to label dissenting voices, typically employed by self-proclaimed “defenders of science”. While the existence of hardcore deniers of the pandemic is an alarming reality, the choice of levying this charge against anyone who does not align with the received consensus on how to handle the virus is a rhetorical move, one that plays very badly in the highly polarized context of public discourse on Covid-19.

Speaker: Fabio Paglieri
Hosted by Marcin Lewiński

Session available on demand HERE


Season 1
Episode 2
Wednesday 10/03/2021  16:00 CET

Criteria for epistemically rational public argumentation
The topic of the presentation is rules, criteria for good public political argumentation, by which political measures in the broad sense can be justified. 1. There are several layers of such rules, from linguistic to process rules; here we are concerned with epistemic rules, whose observance should guarantee that the thesis of an argument is acceptable and can also be recognised as acceptable by an addressee. 2. On the basis of a theory of deliberative democracy, it is argued that the justification of a political measure m consists of argumentatively justifying theses of the kind: ‘m is morally good / optimal’ or ‘m is morally required’. 3. A brief discussion of various approaches in argumentation theory (pragma-dialectics, Walton’s argument schemes, informal logic, epistemological argumentation theory …) filters out the approach that is most likely to provide criteria for epistemically good arguments by which such theses can be justified: it is the epistemological approach. 4. Epistemological criteria for good arguments are presented by which theses of the aforementioned kind can be justified. 5. An analysis of some selected factual political arguments shows to what extent such standards are also empirically followed and where there is a need for improvement.

Speaker: Christoph Lumer
Hosted by Sara Greco

Session available on demand HERE


Season 1
Episode 3
Wednesday 31/03/2021  16:00 CET

Information disorder in public policy communication
In this talk, I will discuss how untruthful and misleading claims may undermine democracy and make people more vulnerable. I present examples from two recent empirical studies: one dealing with the post-referendum Brexit rhetoric of the British government and the other with harmful messages circulating in Europe during the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I suggest that normative investigation of the quality of public policy communication should increasingly draw on theories of information disorder, social vulnerability, and the ethics of democratic representation.

Recommended reading:
How a lack of truthfulness can undermine democratic representation [link]
COVID-19 information disorder [link]
Communication-related vulnerability to disasters [link]

Speaker: Sten Hansson
Hosted by Jan Albert van Laar

Join the session by registering HERE


Season 1
Episode 4
Wednesday 28/04/2021  16:00 CEST

Towards argument-based explanatory dialogues: from argument mining to (explanatory) argument generation
Providing high quality explanations for AI predictions is a challenging task. It requires, among other elements, selecting a proper level of generality/specificity of the explanation, referring to specific elements that have contributed to the decision, and providing evidence supporting negative hypothesis. In this talk, I will present some results achieved in the area of Argument Mining and Argument Generation and how these results can be exploited to generate high quality explanatory dialogues crucially based on argumentation mechanisms. The CHIST-ERA ANTIDOTE project will be also introduced.

Speaker: Serena Villata
Hosted by Barbara De Cock

Join the session by registering HERE


Season 1
Episode 5
Wednesday 12/05/2021  16:00 CEST

Argumentation and a three-tiered model of epistemic exchange
Argumentation is often contrasted with testimony in that in cases of testimony, an epistemic agent (presumably) primarily evaluates the trustworthiness of the source of information (the informant), whereas in argumentation there is (presumably) primarily engagement with the content communicated. I have argued however (Dutilh Novaes 2020) that trust and trustworthiness in fact play an important role in argumentation too. From this analysis emerged a three-tiered model of epistemic exchange, inspired by the framework of social exchange theory (an influential framework in sociology and social psychology). According to this model, there are three stages for an instance of epistemic exchange to take place: 1- a relation of attention is established between the parties; 2- a relation of sufficient trust is established between the parties; 3- the parties can finally engage in fruitful epistemic exchange. This model generalizes beyond argumentation, and sheds new light on a number of phenomena that have attracted the interest of social epistemologists such as epistemic bubbles and epistemic injustice, among others. In this talk, I present the model in detail and discuss some of its applications.

Speaker: Catarina Dutilh Novaes
Hosted by Monika Maciuliene

Join the session by registering HERE


Season 1
Episode 6
Wednesday 02/06/2021  16:00 CEST

Weaknesses of the popularity argument in political deliberation
It is generally agreed upon that epistemic use of the appeal to popular opinion is fallacious. In contrast, its use in political deliberation is often judged as potentially acceptable, for the reason that majority opinion is an important principle of democratic decision-making. I will oppose this latter idea by discussing several false presuppositions that underlie a ‘deliberative’ popularity argument. I conclude that this argument acts merely as a trump card, creating a false impression about democracy and avoiding engagement in real debate and substantive reasons.

Speaker: Henrike Jansen
Hosted by Sandrine Roginsky

Join the session by registering HERE



COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is a funding agency for research and innovation networks. Our Actions help connect research initiatives across Europe and enable scientists to grow their ideas by sharing them with their peers. This boosts their research, career and innovation.

COST Action CA17132

Providing and criticising reasons is indispensable to achieve sound public policy that commands the support of both citizens and stakeholders. This need is now widely acknowledged in the recent literature and key EU documents, which highlight the perils of populist discourse and policies.

Action Contacts

Andreia Domingues - Grant Manager [CA 17132]
NOVA - FCSH | Avenida de Berna, 26 C
1069-061 Lisboa - Portugal

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