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Mayo-Wilson, Conor (January 2014): Reliability of Testimonial Norms in Scientific Communities. In: Synthese, Vol. 191, No. 1: pp. 57-58

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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.

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