Science as Collective Knowledge

  • Ilkka Niiniluoto
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 321)


Science is a form of social knowledge. Its results are produced by the joint action of investigators, who also establish and share the standards for assessing the validity of knowledge claims. Many philosophers of science, from Charles S. Peirce in the 1870s to Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn in the 1960s, have recognized that the proper subject of scientific knowledge is the scientific community. Following Michael Polanyi’s and Robert Merton’s pioneering work in the 1940s, sociologists of science have studied the normative structure of the scientific community. But very little has been done so far to make these insights and results more precise by employing the models of collective belief, developed in theories of social action. It seems clear that the egalitarian concept of mutual belief, first elaborated in (1969), is not adequate to reflect the authority relations that are essential in the production of scientific knowledge. It is argued in this paper that (1995) concept of group belief, with some modifications, can be employed to give a useful account of science as collective knowledge.


Scientific Community Scientific Knowledge Knowledge Claim Legal Norm Collective Knowledge 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilkka Niiniluoto
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HelsinkiFinland

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