Social Character of Science and Its Connection to Epistemic Reliability

Natalia Fernández, Federico Benitez, Diego Romero-Maltrana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Scientific research is a human endeavour, performed by communities of people. Disproportionate focus on only some of the features related to this obvious fact has been used to discredit the reliability of scientific knowledge and to relativize its value when compared with knowledge stemming from other sources. This epistemic relativism is widespread nowadays and is arguably dangerous for our collective future, as the threat of climate change and its denialism clearly shows. In this work, we argue that even though the social character of science is indeed real, it does not entail epistemic relativism with respect to scientific knowledge, but quite the opposite, as there are several characteristic behaviours of this specific human community that were built to increase the reliability of scientific outputs. Crucially, we believe that present-day scientific education is lacking in the description and analysis of these particularities of the scientific community as a social group and that further investing in this area could greatly improve the possibilities of critical analysis of the often very technical issues that the citizens and future citizens of our modern societies have to confront.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience and Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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