Trust, Causality and Reliability

Trust, Causality and Reliability

1-Day Workshop

Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Sala grande Pal. B, via alla Cascata 56/C Povo (TN)

About the Workshop

The main goal of this workshop is to discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the concepts of trust and causality, investigating their relationships, understanding and application in a variety of areas. Nowadays, social dynamics are influenced by technologically dense environments, in which the actions of persons, organizations and technical artefacts give rise to complex systems. The massive use of systems’ abilities to satisfy human interests in a context of risk, uncertainty and vulnerability highlights the need to understand how far we can rely on technology. Moreover, with respect to the study of systems’ failures, the engineering sciences provide cognate notions to that of trust, e.g. reliability or dependability, that require an in-depth analysis of the causal laws or relations useful to explain those systems’ faults that may lead to fatalities, environmental disasters, and significant economic losses. Given all this, the workshop aims to explore the connections between the notion of trust, reliability and causality, from the interdisciplinary perspective of formal ontology in view of a future application in the field of knowledge representation.

Contact us:

How to reach us

Invited Speakers

Boris Raehme

Boris Rähme (PhD in Philosophy, Freie Universität Berlin) is a senior researcher at the Center for Religious Studies of Fondazione Bruno Kessler in Trento (Italy) and lecturer (docente a contratto) in philosophy of logic at the University of Trento. His main research interests are in social epistemology and theories of truth. Rähme has published in the fields of philosophical epistemology, truth theories, and ethics.

Claudio Masolo

Claudio Masolo is a researcher at the Laboratory for Applied Ontology of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the Italian National Research Council. His main research interests concern the ontological foundation of knowledge engineering and conceptual modeling with a particular focus on qualitative representation of space, time, change, and properties as well as on ontological foundations of cognitive theories. He is one of the main person under the development of the DOLCE ontology; co-founder and Membership Officer of the International Association of Ontology and its Applications (IAOA); member of the Editorial Board of the Applied Ontology Journal.

Francesco Antonio Zaccarini

Francesco Antonio Zaccarini is a research fellow at the University of Bologna. His research interests include the foundations of analytic metaphysics, the formal constraints of structures and conceptual engineering. He is currently involved in the development of the EMMO (Elementary Multiperspective Material Ontology).

Luca Biccheri

Luca Biccheri is a postdoc at the Laboratory for Applied Ontology ISTC-CNR based in Trento.  He obtained his PhD in Human Sciences in 2021, under the scope of the Eureka project promoted by Regione Marche. Currently, he is involved in the OntoCommons project, working on the foundational aspects and theoretical issues raised by the notion of trust applied to socio-technical systems.  His research interests include philosophical and computational ontologies, cognitive sciences, philosophy of mind.

Ludger Jansen

Ludger Jansen holds the Cusanus Chair for Philosophy at the PTH Brixen College in Bressanone, Italy. In addition, he is Adjunct Professor at the University of Rostock, Germany, where he is principal investigator of a DFG-funded project on the philosophy of biomimetics. He has published widely at the juntions of metaphysics and the philosophy of science, including applied ontology. 

Riccardo Baratella

Riccardo Baratella held his PhD in Philosophy at the University of Padua. He was a Postdoctoral fellow at the Universities of Salzburg and Tübingen. Since August 2020, Riccardo has been a post-doc at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. His main research topics concern analytic metaphysics and formal ontology. He publishes several articles in international journals and conference proceedings, including Philosophia, Dialectica, Applied Ontology and Synthese.

Other Participants

Beside the LOA group, the people listed below have shown interest in the topics and will participate in person to the workshop.

Federico Laudisa

Federico Laudisa is associate professor in Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of Trento. His main research interests are in the philosophy of natural science, with special reference to the area of the philosophy and foundations of quantum physics.  

PierDaniele Giaretta

Pierdaniele Giaretta is a retired professor in Logic and Philosophy of Science, previously belonging to the Padua University. The part of his research mostly having to do with causation was done in Philosophy of medicine.

Workshop Agenda


Trust: Some Questions from Social Epistemology

In recent years, the relation of trust has become a focus of social epistemology. Debates concern, among others, the questions of how epistemic trust is best to be defined, whether – other things being equal – a default attitude of trust is warranted in communication, and how trust enters into the interpersonal transmission of testimonial knowledge and/or justification.

The talk will present some of the questions that I take to be central to recent debates about trust in social epistemology, sketch some dialectical options in answering those questions, and take a brief look at whether epistemological debates about trust have useful ramifications for discussions about trustworthy artificial intelligence.

The Many Facets of Trust

Trust is an attitude that an agent (the trustor) has toward an entity (the trustee), such that the trustor counts upon the trustee to act in a way that is beneficial w.r.t. to the trustor’s goals. The notion of trust is relevantly discussed both in information science and philosophy. Unfortunately, we still lack a satisfying account for this concept. The goal of the talk is to contribute to filling this gap. First, we take issue with some central tenets shared by the main philosophical accounts, such as that there is just one relation of trust, that this relation has three argument places, and that trust is reliance plus something else. Second, we provide a novel account of trust, also discussing different levels of trust. According to the account we put forth here, the logical form of trust sentences is expressed by a four- places relation. Further, we distinguish and characterize four kinds of trust relations and their connections. Finally, we also argue that trust and reliance are different phenomena.

Instrumental dependence

The notion of trust has been traditionally investigated within many dis- ciplines, ranging from sociology to economy, as well as politics, psychology, and philosophy. More recently, it is especially in the fields of AI, ICT, and Engineering (e.g., Critical systems), that the need for a discussion on the concept of trust, problematized in relation to the massive employment of technical artefacts in modern society, is becoming urgent. Yet, being a characteristic trait of human relationships, it is not clear whether the attitude of trust can also be directed towards artefacts. Moreover, with respect to the study of systems’ failures, the engineering sciences provide cognate notions to that of trust, e.g. reliability or dependability, which high- light our dependence on complex systems to fulfil certain tasks in a context of risk, uncertainty and vulnerability. In order to understand how far we can rely on tech- nology, we should be able to understand, first of all, which kinds of dependen- cies are at stake. To this aim, we will briefly review and discuss the main theoretical points related to trust and the technical notions mentioned, looking at both humanities and engineering literature. Then, we shall propose a preliminary ontological analysis aiming at comparing the specificities of the concepts concerned, all sharing a form of instrumental dependence.

Modelling causal principles as complex dispositions

In engineering, the development of new constructions is often said to be based on “working principles”. Not surprisingly, there is little reflection on what a working principle is in ontological terms. Often, the specific working principles are not even described linguistically, but by means of images only. The presentation will probe the hypothesis that working principles are dispositions, and that the apparatus of complex dispositions, including multitrack dispositions, can be used to describe working principles.

From Causation (and Parthood) to Time: the Case of EMMO

We investigate the construction of time in EMMO, a foundational ontology developed to improve the strictness in the representation of applied sciences’ knowledge. We show how temporaln individuals and temporal relations can be defined from the primitives of causation and parthood, at the core of EMMO; we then prove that our construction satisfies van Benthem’s requirements for temporal structures. We conclude by sketching how our results can be generalised, employing a strategy to simulate relations’ transitive closure in FOL.