Staff – University of Copenhagen

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Klemens Kappel

Klemens Kappel


My main area of research is social epistemology, which covers questions concerning how knowledge, justified belief, or evidence for beliefs may be generated in or depend on social context. Generally, what we know depend on social contexts in various ways, say because what we know is transmitted from others, or because evidence or justification is generated in way that depend on certain forms of collaboration. What kind of social settings are conducive to the production or dissemination of knowledge, justified belief or evidence? Knowledge and true belief is often said to be promoted by exchange of reasons and arguments, but why is that so, and under what conditions? Diversity is often though to promote the prodution of knowledge in groups, but why and which forms of diversity have these effects? Can groups, organisations or corporates have knowlegde or justified belief, or is this strictly speaking reserved to individuals? How should we rationally react when we discover that we disagree with others, in particular others we thought to be as competent as ourselves? Does it make a difference whether I disagree with one other individual or with 10.000 others? And what is the role of consensus - suppose I not only disagree with some, but also agree with many? Why is consensus among experts important (if it is)? When is dissensus important, and when is it malignant? What should we think about the various forms of biases that affect our detection and uptake of evidence (in particular various forms of confirmation biases). 

Some of the questions I work with overlap with political philosophy: Does science and scientific knowledge have a priviledge status in democratic decision-making? How should are legitimate decisions to be made in cases where we face incalcitrant disagreements about the facts? What role can religious reason have in public reason? What role should scientific reasons have? How should freedom of speech be motivated? 


I direct a research group (SERG) focusing on these questions. See more on

I also have some interest in general questions in political philosophy and bioethics, and have recently published on moral compromises in politics and on consent based on trust in medical contexts. 

In addition, I am interested in general questions in epistemology about reliabilism, epistemic consequentialism, the Gettier problem, the generality problem, epistemic relativism and meta-epistemoology (the nature of attributions of knowledge). 



I teach and supervise primarily in epistemology, social epsitemology, political philosophy, and bioethics. I have extensive experience with supervising BA and MA theses in many areas in contemporary anglophone philosophy. If you consider writing a BA or MA thesis with me, please do not hesitate to contact me on

Selected publications

  1. Accepted/In press

    Bottom Up justification, asymmetric epistemic push, and the fragility of higher order justification


    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  2. Published

    Does controversial science call for public participation?: The case of GM skepticism

    Christiansen, A., Jønch-Clausen, K. & Kappel, K. 9 Dec 2017 In : Les Ateliers de l'Ethique. 12, 1, p. 26-50 25 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  3. Published

    Accelerating the domestication of new crops: feasibility and approaches

    Østerberg, J. T., Xiang, W., Olsen, L. I., Edenbrandt, A. K., Vedel, S. E., Christiansen, A., Landes, X., Andersen, M. M., Pagh, P., Sandøe, P., Nielsen, J., Christensen, S. B., Thorsen, B. J., Kappel, K., Gamborg, C. & Palmgren, M. B. 2017 In : Trends in Plant Science. 22, 5, p. 373-384 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  4. Submitted

    Dissent. Good, Bad, and Reasonable

    Kappel, K. 2017 (Submitted) Voicing Dissent. Johnson, C. (ed.).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

  5. Published

    Is consent based on trust morally inferior to consent based on information?

    Kongsholm, N. C. H. & Kappel, K. 2017 In : Bioethics. 31, 6, p. 432-442 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  6. Accepted/In press

    The epistemic role of science and expertise in liberal democracy

    Kappel, K. & Zahle, J. 2017 (Accepted/In press) Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology. Graham, P., Fricker, M., Henderson, D. & Pedersen, N. J. L. L. (eds.). Routledge

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

  7. Submitted

    Trust and Disagreement

    Kappel, K. 2017 (Submitted) Routledge Handbook of Trust and Philosophy. Simon, J. (ed.). Routledge

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

  8. Published

    Scientific Facts and Methods in Public Reason

    Jønch-Clausen, K. & Kappel, K. May 2016 In : Res Publica. 22, 2, p. 117-133 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  9. Published

    Complementary/Alternative Medicine and the Evidence Requirement

    Hansen, K. & Kappel, K. 2016 The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine. Solomon, M., Simon, J. R. & Kincaid, H. (eds.). New York: Routledge, p. 257-267 11 p. (Routledge Philosophy Companions).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

  10. Published

    Epistemic Expressivism and the Argument from Motivation

    Kappel, K. & Møller, E. F. L. May 2014 In : Synthese. 191, 7, p. 1529-1547 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  11. Published

    Believing on Trust

    Kappel, K. 2014 In : Synthese - An international journal for epistemology, methodology and philosophy of science. 191, 9, p. 2009-2028 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

ID: 9446