The role accorded to the public by philosophers of science1

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 4 (3):229-240 (1990)
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Abstract

Abstract The role accorded to the public by scientists and philosophers of science has undergone an essential historical change in the last three centuries. Public participation in (witnessing of) scientific experiments was considered an important requirement for 17th century experimenters (e.g. for Boyle or Pascal). The cognitive role played by lay persons was later substantially downgraded; witnessing went out of fashion, while science became more and more esoteric and a matter for experts only. Part of this process was that all scientific disciplines became intensively compartmentalized and in consequence a rather puzzling or even paradoxical situation appeared: that the scientists themselves were and are being reduced epistemically to the status of lay persons, outside of their proper field of expertise (as was pointed out by J. Hardwig). The paper deals with some cognitive aspects of this historical process

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