Scientific inference and the pursuit of fame: A contractarian approach

Philosophy of Science 69 (2):300-323 (2002)
Abstract
Methodological norms are seen as rules defining a competitive game, and it is argued that rational recognition‐seeking scientists can reach a collective agreement about which specific norms serve better their individual interests, especially if the choice is made 'under a veil of ignorance', i.e. , before knowing what theory will be proposed by each scientist. Norms for theory assessment are distinguished from norms for theory choice (or inference rules), and it is argued that pursuit of recognition only affects this second type of rule. An inference rule similar to 'eliminative induction' is defended on the basis of such a possible agreement. According to this contractarian approach, both the explanation and the justification of scientific norms only need to refer to the preferences of individual scientists, without assuming the existence of 'collective' points of view.
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