Scientific Progress: By-Whom or For-Whom?

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 97 (C):20-28 (2022)
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When science makes cognitive progress, who or what is it that improves in the requisite way? According to a widespread and unchallenged assumption, it is the cognitive attitudes of scientists themselves, i.e. the agents by whom scientific progress is made, that improve during progressive episodes. This paper argues against this assumption and explores a different approach. Scientific progress should be defined in terms of potential improvements to the cognitive attitudes of those for whom progress is made, i.e. the receivers rather than the producers of scientific information. This includes not only scientists themselves, but also various other individuals who utilize scientific information in different ways for the benefit of society as a whole.

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Finnur Dellsén
University of Iceland


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