SCAS News - 5 October, 2023

A New Generation of Pro Futura Scientia Fellows Welcomed into the SCAS Community

Last week, the eighteenth generation of Pro Futura Scientia Fellows were welcomed into the SCAS
community at a ceremony held in the Collegium’s Thunberg Hall. The annual Pro Futura ceremony is
a festive occasion and an important feature of the academic year at SCAS. Through the years, a distin-
guished group of young talented scholars have been admitted to the programme and this group now also
include Moa Lidén (Uppsala University); Chakad Ojani (Stockholm University); Olle Risberg (Uppsala
University); Ylwa Sjölin Wirling (University of Gothenburg); and Jack Wright (University of Gothenburg).
At the ceremony, the five new Fellows were formally introduced to the invited audience by SCAS Principal
Christina Garsten and presented with diplomas and flowers before musicians from the Uppsala University
Academic Orchestra performed W.A. Mozart’s  Clarinet Quintet, A major, K. 581, movement II: Larghetto.
A lecture by Professor Ruben Andersson (University of Oxford) on the topic Academic Research, and the
Struggle for a Human Future
concluded the event.

Below you will find brief summaries of the research projects that the new Pro Futura Scientia Fellows will
work on during their time in the programme:

Moa Lidén (Department of Law, Uppsala University)
Academic discipline/field of study: Criminal Law
Research project: Evidence-Based Criminal Law (EB-CRIME)

Evidence-Based Criminal Law (EB-CRIME) is a new legal framework entailing a coordinated, systematic
and scientific approach to error detection and mitigation in relation to criminal evidence. This framework
focuses on issues of fact, that is, questions pertaining to the evidence and how to properly evaluate whether,
for example, a prosecutor’s description of a course of event has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
This focus is different from the more traditional focus in research on criminal law and procedure, namely
on issues of law, i.e. the appropriate application of legal rules and principles. Thus, the framework fills a
knowledge gap. It also has significant practical implications because legal practitioners like prosecutors and
judges with issues of fact on a daily basis but currently have very little or no training, education or guidelines
to assist them.

The EB-CRIME project entails six subprojects aimed at detecting and mitigating errors in evidence types
that are commonly occurring in jurisdictions worldwide. The subprojects focus on:

  1. Source Evaluation: analysis of statements from plaintiffs, witnesses and suspects
  2. Digital Forensics: information obtained from digital devices like smartphones and laptops
  3. Molecular Diagnostics: DNA and protein analysis
  4. Forensic Medicine: medical expert opinions
  5. Forensic Anthropology: analysis of skeletal remains
  6. Age Estimation: methods used to determine chronological age in living individuals

Chakad Ojani
(Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University);
Academic discipline/field of study: Social Anthropology
Research project:  Infrastructuring the Extra-terrestrial, Un-earthing Anthropology: Sweden in the New
Space Age

Over the past years, Sweden has begun to expand its sounding rocket range with a view to develop small
satellite launch capability. The Swedish space strategy is symptomatic of broader, speculative engagements
with the extra-terrestrial as a domain for projection, experimentation, and infrastructural possibility, able to
support and/or limit human life on Earth. This is evident not least in how orbital space has emerged as a key
arena for addressing contemporary planetary challenges such as climate change. Meanwhile, a growing
private space industry has started to push former government-centred paradigms towards opening up a free-
market space frontier. However, with the increasing reliance on post-terrestrial infrastructures, orbital debris
and geomagnetic storms present new risks to critical, ground-based infrastructures. My project takes these
developments as an impetus to explore the making and reshaping of (extra-)planetary ecologies through
various forms of infrastructural mediation. Specifically, I examine the discursive, material, and speculative
practices whereby environments both on and off Earth become reimagined and modified amid burgeoning
efforts geared towards the infrastructuring of Earth orbit and beyond. In attending to these processes, my
project ultimately seeks to elucidate the possibilities and limitations of a geocentric politics of environment
and climate change.

Olle Risberg (
Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University)
Academic discipline/field of study: Philosophy
Research project:  Matters of Degree: Toward an Understanding of Gradable Normative Properties

The project aims to increase our understanding of normative properties—in other words, those that fall on
the ‘ought’ side of the familiar ‘is/ought’ divide. By integrating research in both practical and theoretical
philosophy with results from measurement theory, it will assess the hypothesis that many of the most central
normative properties—including rationality, reason, value, appropriateness, justification, harm, progress, and responsibility—are gradable (roughly in the sense that things can have them to a greater or lesser extent, or
have more or less of them), and that philosophical theories about them should accordingly be designed to
reflect this fact. Two further congenial hypotheses are (i) that these properties are typically also multidimen-
(roughly in the sense that an object’s overall degree of F-ness depends on where it ranks along several
dimensions rather than just one), and (ii) that as a result, they will often give rise to forms of value incom-
(roughly in the sense that for two objects which are both F to some degree, it is not the case
that either is more F than the other, and also not the case that they are equally as F).

Ylwa Sjölin Wirling (Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of Science; University of Gothenburg)
Academic discipline/field of study: Theoretical Philosophy
Research project:  Between Knowledge and Ignorance: Epistemic Possibilities in Inquiry

Epistemic possibilities are what philosophers call scenarios that are compatible with a particular body of know-
ledge or evidence. Traditional approaches in epistemology mainly view the concept of epistemic possibility as a
well-behaved tool in formal modelling of knowledge and ignorance, and takes inquirers’ ability to make accurate
epistemic possibility judgements to be of mainly instrumental value. My project goes beyond that: it brings out
new complexities in how the concept needs to be used, and explicates the value of this ability in new ways. It
does so by putting to use the notion of epistemic possibility in novel accounts of some aspects of inquiry that
are either ignored or inadequately handled by existing theories. The aim is to explore what roles epistemic
possibility judgements do and should play at various stages in inquiry, and ultimately to develop an account of
epistemic possibility that can better help us understand the nature, value, and epistemology of such judgements.
The project can usefully be seen as part of a recent zetetic expansion of analytic epistemology, which widens
the focus of the discipline from a study of the state of knowledge, to theorizing about inquiry as a whole.

Jack Wright
(Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg)
Academic discipline/field of study: Theory of Science
Research project:  Reconsidering Social Demarcation (ReSocial)

What separates science from non-science?
This question – ‘the demarcation problem’ – was once central in the
philosophy of science. It is now largely peripheral. Reconsidering Social Demarcation (ReSocial) aims to reverse
that trend.

My point of departure will be the role that scientific knowledge plays in our practical reasoning. Individuals and
groups rely on knowledge when deciding how to act. It is not feasible for them to independently verify all the
knowledge claims they might utilise. Relying on a category of knowledge we label ‘scientific’ is an important
heuristic. ReSocial will revitalise the demarcation problem as grounding this heuristic. I will offer reasons to
believe that scientific knowledge is reliable, qua scientific knowledge.

While the old demarcation debate centred largely on methodology, ReSocial’s innovation will be to switch focus
to sociology. I will use recent empirical evidence on the social organisation of science to rework the much-
maligned sociological definition of science – science is what scientists do. My hypothesis is that defining science
sociologically need not be as vacuous as previously claimed. Adding a key normative amendment – science is
what scientists do when part of a well organised scientific community – and developing an empirically grounded
account of what it means for a science to be well organised, I aim to show that defining science sociologically
is both extensionally accurate and explains the epistemic value of science.

The Pro Futura Scientia Programme for early career scholars, set up in 1999 by the Swedish Collegium for
Advanced Study (SCAS) and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ), aims at providing optimal conditions for
promising scholars in the humanities and social sciences and to give them the chance to pursue curiosity-
driven research. More than 60 scholars have been enrolled in the programme since the start.

Read more: Pro Futura Scientia History and Mission

Read more: Nominations and Selections

Read more: Pro Futura Scientia Fellows (1999 - present)