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The Communication Structure of Epistemic Communities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

Increasingly, epistemologists are becoming interested in social structures and their effect on epistemic enterprises, but little attention has been paid to the proper distribution of experimental results among scientists. This paper will analyze a model first suggested by two economists, which nicely captures one type of learning situation faced by scientists. The results of a computer simulation study of this model provide two interesting conclusions. First, in some contexts, a community of scientists is, as a whole, more reliable when its members are less aware of their colleagues’ experimental results. Second, there is a robust tradeoff between the reliability of a community and the speed with which it reaches a correct conclusion.

Type
Philosophy of Science
Copyright
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

The author would like to thank Brian Skyrms, Kyle Stanford, Jeffrey Barrett, Bruce Glymour, and the participants in the Social Dynamics Seminar at University of California–Irvine for their helpful comments. Generous financial support was provided by the School of Social Science and Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at UCI.

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