Synthese 191 (1):97-108 (2014)
AbstractCo-authorship of papers is very common in most areas of science, and it has increased as the complexity of research has strengthened the need for scientific collaboration. But the fact that papers have more than an author tends to complicate the attribution of merit to individual scientists. I argue that collaboration does not necessarily entail co-authorship, but that in many cases the latter is an option that individual authors might not choose, at least in principle: each author might publish in a separate way her own contribution to the collaborative project in which she has taken part, or papers could explicitly state what the contribution of each individual author has been. I ask, hence, why it is that scientists prefer to ‘pool’ their contributions instead of keeping them separate, if what they pursue in their professional careers is individual recognition. My answer is based on the view of the scientific paper as a piece of argumentation, following an inferentialist approach to scientific knowledge. A few empirical predictions from the model presented here are suggested in the conclusions.
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