Theory-choice, transient diversity and the efficiency of scientific inquiry


Authors
Dunja Šešelja
Eindhoven University of Technology
Christian Straßer
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Abstract
Recent studies of scientific interaction based on agent-based models suggest that a crucial factor conducive to efficient inquiry is what Zollman has dubbed ‘transient diversity’. It signifies a process in which a community engages in parallel exploration of rivaling theories lasting sufficiently long for the community to identify the best theory and to converge on it. But what exactly generates transient diversity? And is transient diversity a decisive factor when it comes to the efficiency of inquiry? In this paper we examine the impact of different conditions on the efficiency of inquiry, as well as the relation between diversity and efficiency. This includes certain diversity-generating mechanisms previously proposed in the literature, as well as some factors that have so far been neglected. This study is obtained via an argumentation-based ABM. Our results suggest that cautious decision-making does not always have a significant impact on the efficiency of inquiry while different evaluations underlying theory-choice and different social networks do. Moreover, we find a correlation between diversity and a successful performance of agents only under specific conditions, which indicates that transient diversity is sometimes not the primary factor responsible for efficiency. Altogether, when comparing our results to those obtained by structurally different ABMs based on Zollman’s work, the impact of specific factors on efficiency of inquiry, as well as the role of transient diversity in achieving efficiency, appear to be highly dependent on the underlying model.
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Reprint years 2019
DOI 10.1007/s13194-019-0249-5
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Progress and Its Problems.Larry Laudan - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 46 (4):623-644.

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