, Volume 191, Issue 1, pp 55–78

Reliability of testimonial norms in scientific communities


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-013-0320-2

Cite this article as:
Mayo-Wilson, C. Synthese (2014) 191: 55. doi:10.1007/s11229-013-0320-2


Several current debates in the epistemology of testimony are implicitly motivated by concerns about the reliability of rules for changing one’s beliefs in light of others’ claims. Call such rules testimonial norms (tns). To date, epistemologists have neither (i) characterized those features of communities that influence the reliability of tns, nor (ii) evaluated the reliability of tns as those features vary. These are the aims of this paper. I focus on scientific communities, where the transmission of highly specialized information is both ubiquitous and critically important. Employing a formal model of scientific inquiry, I argue that miscommunication and the “communicative structure” of science strongly influence the reliability of tns, where reliability is made precise in three ways.


Testimony Epistemology Reductionism Social structure of science Networks Homophily 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Munich Center for Mathematical PhilosophyLudwig-Maximilians-Universität München Fakultät für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Religionswissenschaft Lehrstuhl für Logik und Sprachphilosophie Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1MünchenGermany

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