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Scientific conclusions need not be accurate, justified, or believed by their authors

Dang, Haixin and Bright, Liam Kofi (2021) Scientific conclusions need not be accurate, justified, or believed by their authors. Synthese, 199 (3-4). 8187 - 8203. ISSN 0039-7857

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11229-021-03158-9


We argue that the main results of scientific papers may appropriately be published even if they are false, unjustified, and not believed to be true or justified by their author. To defend this claim we draw upon the literature studying the norms of assertion, and consider how they would apply if one attempted to hold claims made in scientific papers to their strictures, as assertions and discovery claims in scientific papers seem naturally analogous. We first use a case study of William H. Bragg’s early twentieth century work in physics to demonstrate that successful science has in fact violated these norms. We then argue that features of the social epistemic arrangement of science which are necessary for its long run success require that we do not hold claims of scientific results to their standards. We end by making a suggestion about the norms that it would be appropriate to hold scientific claims to, along with an explanation of why the social epistemology of science—considered as an instance of collective inquiry—would require such apparently lax norms for claims to be put forward.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2022 12:18
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 19:39

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