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Epistemic responsibility and scientific authorship

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  • UserHaixin Dang (University of Leeds)
  • ClockWednesday 18 November 2020, 13:00-14:30
  • HouseZoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Matt Farr.

Epistemic responsibility is a central concept in the social epistemic practices of science, but the concept has often been left unanalyzed. The paper reporting the mass of the Higgs boson had over 5,000 listed authors. To what extent are these authors epistemically responsible for the discovery of the mass of the Higgs boson? We need to clarify the concept of epistemic responsibility which can ground our determination of who should be acknowledged or rewarded for scientific discovery and also who should be sanctioned when a scientific claim turns out to be false or erroneous. Questions over epistemic responsibility in science are intimately tied with issues over scientific authorship. In face of collaboration, some philosophers of science have argued that there is no responsible agent or responsible author in large scientific teams (Huebner 2014; Huebner, Kukla, and Winsberg 2017; and Winsberg, Huebner, and Kukla 2014) and others (Wray 2006, 2018) have argued that only a group agent can be said to be responsible for collective outputs as a group author. Both of these existing accounts are inadequate for scientific practice. I argue that we ought to reject both these views of scientific authorship. Instead, I offer an alternative account and show how we can coherently locate epistemic responsibility to individuals. Every collaborator will be responsible but be responsible in different senses. I argue that we ought to look for a more fine-grained analysis of epistemic responsibility. There are questions about who is properly connected to the scientific claim (attributability), who can answer for and give reasons for a particular scientific claim (answerability), and who should be held accountable for or praised for scientific claims (accountability). In conclusion, I discuss how my analysis bear on current reforms as scientists and journal editors look for new models of scientific authorship.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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