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Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of science

University at Albany, State University of New York

2013

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What Scientists Know Is Not A Function Of What Scientists Know, P.D. Magnus Dec 2013

What Scientists Know Is Not A Function Of What Scientists Know, P.D. Magnus

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

There are two senses of ‘what scientists know’: An individual sense (the separate opinions of individual scientists) and a collective sense (the state of the discipline). The latter is what matters for policy and planning, but it is not something that can be directly observed or reported. A function can be defined to map individual judgments onto an aggregate judgment. I argue that such a function cannot effectively capture community opinion, especially in cases that matter to us.