Knowledge in a Scientific Community

Published on Jan 1, 2016
· DOI :10.1007/978-3-319-33405-9_16
Kevin McCain9
Estimated H-index: 9
(UAB: University of Alabama at Birmingham)
In earlier chapters various social aspects of scientific knowledge have been explored. These have been aspects which allow for social evidence to provide scientific knowledge to an individual. The focus in this chapter, however, moves beyond the study of individualistic characteristics of scientific knowledge by looking at science itself as an epistemic system. The thoroughgoing social nature of science leads to some characteristics which make it an epistemic system particularly well suited for adding to the store of scientific knowledge. In particular, the social nature of science leads to a division of cognitive labor. This division of cognitive labor both makes it so that trust plays an integral role in the generation of scientific knowledge and so that scientific progress is enhanced by the scientific community hedging its bets by scientists pursuing a wide variety of research projects utilizing a variety of methods. Although the individual scientists who make up the scientific community are not perfect, various social institutions in science help to make good use of their baser motivations.
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