I’m a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh in the Department of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, kindly funded for the next three and a bit years by the ESRC. Specifically, my work focusses on expertise, authority and credibility, and the way that people relate to these concepts on the internet. My work takes place in the framework of the Strong Programme in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, also known as the Edinburgh School. This is a social constructivist approach to the theory of knowledge which holds that society is constituted by a distribution of knowledge, that knowledge exists only in groups rather than individuals, and that we can explain the beliefs we hold to be true and false by reference to the same kind of causes – that is, it’s not enough to say we believe something simply because it is ‘rational’ to do so. My academic interests include ethics (particularly bioethics and public health ethics); history, philosophy and sociology of science, technology and medicine; Wittgensteinian and Foucauldian approaches to knowledge and social relations; accounts of expertise and authority; the sociology and philosophy of the internet; and nutrition science and how communities form around particular diets, exercise regimes and nutritional philosophies.
In my spare time I like to write words, occasionally in a coherent fashion. I’ve sometimes been accused of being an ‘enemy of free speech’ by people who don’t really understand what free speech is. If you google my name, the second result is still an article about why I should be ‘expelled from Cambridge’, and the first page contains a lovely video of a speech I gave at the Oxford Union filled with comments about why I don’t deserve to be alive. Fun fact: someone claiming the name of a dead French polymath once made a 23 minute diss video about me.
I also spend a lot of my weekends travelling to far-flung places to argue with strangers in seminar rooms, with some modest degree of success. I’ve represented both Cambridge and Edinburgh at the European Universities Debating Championships, and occasionally people pay me to teach children to argue.
In my spare spare time, I hit a ball against a wall very hard, as well as picking heavy things up and putting them down again in an attempt to improve my aesthetics. I have a funny name.
I’m contactable at timsquirrell[at]gmail.com, or on twitter as @timsquirrell.