Formal models of the scientific community and the value-ladenness of science

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-23 (2021)
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In the past few years, social epistemologists have developed several formal models of the social organisation of science. While their robustness and representational adequacy has been analysed at length, the function of these models has begun to be discussed in more general terms only recently. In this article, I will interpret many of the current formal models of the scientific community as representing the latest development of what I will call the ‘Kuhnian project’. These models share with Kuhn a number of questions about the relation between individuals and communities. At the same time, they also inherit some of Kuhn’s problematic characterisations of the scientific community. In particular, current models of the social organisation of science represent the scientific community as essentially value-free. This may put into question both their representational adequacy and their normative ambitions. In the end, it will be shown that the discussion on the formal models of the scientific community may contribute in fruitful ways to the ongoing debates on value judgements in science.

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Vincenzo Politi
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


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