The Independence Thesis: When Individual and Social Epistemology Diverge

Philosophy of Science 78 (4):653-677 (2011)

Authors
David Danks
Carnegie Mellon University
Kevin Zollman
Carnegie Mellon University
Conor Mayo-Wilson
University of Washington
Abstract
In the latter half of the twentieth century, philosophers of science have argued (implicitly and explicitly) that epistemically rational individuals might compose epistemically irrational groups and that, conversely, epistemically rational groups might be composed of epistemically irrational individuals. We call the conjunction of these two claims the Independence Thesis, as they together imply that methodological prescriptions for scientific communities and those for individual scientists might be logically independent of one another. We develop a formal model of scientific inquiry, define four criteria for individual and group epistemic rationality, and then prove that the four definitions diverge, in the sense that individuals will be judged rational when groups are not and vice versa. We conclude by explaining implications of the inconsistency thesis for (i) descriptive history and sociology of science and (ii) normative prescriptions for scientific communities.
Keywords Social Epistemology  Rationality  Networks
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DOI 10.1086/661777
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References found in this work BETA

The Division of Cognitive Labor.Philip Kitcher - 1990 - Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):5-22.
The Role of the Priority Rule in Science.Michael Strevens - 2003 - Journal of Philosophy 100 (2):55-79.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Epistemic Value of Expert Autonomy.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Scientific Polarization.Cailin O'Connor & James Owen Weatherall - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):855-875.
Conservatism and the Scientific State of Nature.Erich Kummerfeld & Kevin J. S. Zollman - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):1057-1076.

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