In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Säde Hormio and Samuli Reijula (University of Helsinki) will give a talk on “Universities as anarchic knowledge institutions.

The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on the 5th of December. To join the seminar, please contact for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.


Universities are knowledge institutions. Compared to several other knowledge institutions (e.g., think tanks, schools, government research organisations), universities have unusual, anarchic, organisational features. We argue that such anarchic features are not necessarily a weakness. Rather, they reflect the special standing of universities among knowledge institutions. We argue that the distributed, self-organising mode of knowledge production maintains a diversity of approaches, topics and solutions needed in frontier research, which involves generating relevant knowledge under uncertainty. Organisational disunity and inconsistencies should sometimes be protected by institutional structures and procedures in order for universities to best serve their purpose as knowledge institutions. The quality control for the knowledge produced in a university comes from knowledge fields, clusters of knowledge and research that exist beyond the confines of individual organisations. The diversity of epistemic contributions is therefore kept in check by the order imposed by the internal logic of science as a social practice. Our argument provides a new defence of autonomy of research conducted at universities.

Author bios:

Säde Hormio is a postdoctoral researcher in Practical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki and a member of TINT. Her research focuses on social epistemology and collective responsibility.

Samuli Reijula is an Academy of Finland research fellow (2020-2025) and a university lecturer in theoretical philosophy at the University of Helsinki.