Collaboration and Collective Knowledge

For the two research groups studied, Chaps. 6, 7 and 8 have described how research efforts are divided among group members, how such division of labor creates relations of epistemic dependence and how such dependence relations are facilitated by trust. It was shown that it takes more than an individual effort to create scientific knowledge. Now, given that knowledge creation in much of today’s natural sciences is the result of collaborative effort, philosophers need to explore whether or not scientific knowledge amounts to genuinely collective knowledge. And in fact, during recent years, diverse accounts of collective knowledge have been debated controversially (see, e.g., Andersen, 2010; Cheon, 2014; de Ridder, 2014; Fagan, 2011; Gilbert, 2000; Miller, 2015; Rolin, 2010; Wray, 2001).

In this chapter, I will focus on two exemplary accounts of collective knowledge (Sect. 9.1). I will discuss, on the grounds that previous chapters have laid, how far they apply to the previously observed scientific practice of collaborative knowledge creation (Sects. 9.2 and 9.3), a discussion on the basis of which I will formulate my own account of collective scientific knowledge.

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016 S. Wagenknecht, A Social Epistemology of Research Groups, New Directions in the Philosophy of Science,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-52410-2_9

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