The Logic of Observation and Belief Revision in Scientific Communities

  • Hanna Sofie van LeeEmail author
  • Sonja Smets


Scientists collect evidence in order to confirm or falsify scientific theories. Unfortunately, scientific evidence may sometimes be false or deceiving and as a consequence lead individuals to believe in a false theory. By interaction between scientists, such false beliefs may spread through the entire community. There is currently a debate about the effect of various network configurations on the epistemic reliability of scientific communities (e.g. Zollman 2010 and Rosenstock et al. 2017). To contribute to this debate from a logical perspective, this paper introduces an epistemic logical framework of observation, interaction and belief revision in scientific communities. The presented sound and complete system provides the formal tools for qualitative analysis of the social dynamics of scientific inquiry. Furthermore, this paper includes detailed suggestions for future applications of the framework.


Dynamic epistemic logic Social interaction Belief revision Scientific inquiry Observation Network structure 



The research of Hanna Sofie van Lee is financed by the Carlsberg Foundation. We would like to thank Alexandru Baltag, Vincent F. Hendricks, Rasmus K. Rendsvig and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Information and Bubble StudiesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Institute for Logic, Language and ComputationUniveristy of AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands

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