To Be Scientific Is To Be Communist

Social Epistemology 37 (3):249-258 (2023)
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Abstract

What differentiates scientific research from non-scientific inquiry? Philosophers addressing this question have typically been inspired by the exalted social place and intellectual achievements of science. They have hence tended to point to some epistemic virtue or methodological feature of science that sets it apart. Our discussion on the other hand is motivated by the case of commercial research, which we argue is distinct from (and often epistemically inferior to) academic research. We consider a deflationary view in which science refers to whatever is regarded as epistemically successful, but find that this does not leave room for the important notion of scientific error and fails to capture distinctive social elements of science. This leads us to the view that a demarcation criterion should be a widely upheld social norm without immediate epistemic connotations. Our tentative answer is the communist norm, which calls on scientists to share their work widely for public scrutiny and evaluation.

Author Profiles

Liam Kofi Bright
London School of Economics
Remco Heesen
London School of Economics

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