Jörn Wiengarn


Project: Trust in Computer-aided Design in Urban Planning

Participatory processes in urban planning typically involve a broad range of different stakeholders, such as affected citizens, experts from different fields and political decision-makers. These groups may not only pursue divergent interests, but also differ in their epistemic background, i.e. in their epistemic perspective and insight into the matter at hand. In such a context simulations and computer-aided design play an increasingly important role. They not only serve as a means of gaining, but also of communicating knowledge about possible impacts of policy decisions from different perspectives. Thus they help to establish a common epistemological basis to facilitate participation among diverse stakeholders and to make well-informed urban planning decisions.

However, a key condition for success is that the participating stake-holders place sufficient trust in the simulations. At this point, two basic questions arise. First, what does it mean to trust a simulation in this context? The question is more complicated than it might first appear, since trust here does not just consist in a belief that the technology itself is reliable. Rather, trust irreducibly refers to the epistemic virtuousness of those who create the simulations. Second, the questions arises of how people can come to trust the simulations. How can various forms of mistrust and doubt be overcome? What factors play a role in how people assess techniques as reliable or unreliable and people involved as trustworthy or untrustworthy?

The project aims to addressing these questions on the basis of philosophical clarifications of the nature and epistemological structure of different forms of trust and mistrust. The goal is to get a deeper and clearer understanding of the role of trust in simulations for participatory processes, with a focus on urban planning, and to develop strategies to prevent problematic forms of mistrust.


Scientific Interests

  • Philosophy of Trust and Mistrust
  • Social Epistemology
  • Theories of Practical Rationality



Studied philosophy, physics and political science at the TU Darmstadt. Since 2018 PhD scholarship holder at the a.r.t.e.s. Garduate School in Cologne with a thesis in philosophy on interpersonal trust. Since February 2021 research assistant at the project “Trust in Information” at HLRS.


Recent Talks

  • “Rationality and Agent-specificity in Trusting Relationships”, Poster Presentation, February 2018, Secon Workshop “Understanding Others – Integration of Social Cognitive and Affective Processes”, University of Cologne.
  • “Interpersonal Trust: How to Reconcile Epistemology and Ethics?”, June 2019, II FINO Graduate Conference. Contemporary Issues across Ethics and Epistemology, University of Pavia.

  • “Three Concepts of Interpersonal Trust”, September 2019, AHRC DTP Conference on “Trust and Truth”, University of Cambridge.

  • “Ich habe dir vertraut! – Zur spezifischen Normativität interpersonellen Vertrauens”, October 2019, VII. Tagung für praktische Philosophie, Universität Salzburg.