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A successful scientific community might require different scientists to form different beliefs even when faced with the same evidence. The standard line is that this would create a conflict between the demands of collective rationality which scientists face as members of the community and the demands of individual rationality which they face as epistemic agents. This is expressed both by philosophers of science (working on the distribution of cognitive labor) and by epistemologists (working on the epistemology of disagreement). The standard line fails to take into account the relation between rational belief and various epistemic risks, values of which are a matter of personal and social commitment. This introduces the possibility of conflicts the standard line does not recognize, because someone with extreme values might be individually rational but too far beyond the pale to have a place in the scientific community. More importantly, it introduces at least a possibility for good scientists to be rational individuals.


This article was originally published in Ergo, and Open Access Journal of Philosophy.



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