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Trust and Distributed Epistemic Labour
Transcript of Trust and Distributed Epistemic Labour
Workshop on Trust and Disagreement in Institutions
November 24-25, 2016
Trust and Distributed
1. Trust: The Glue that Binds the Products of Distributed Research into Knowledge
2. What grounds Trust? How Trust is built, given, and maintained?
3. Trust and Inductive Risks
4. What are the Objects of Trust?
5. The Problem of the Attribution of Authorship and Accountability
7. Trust in Distributed Cognitive Systems
Hardwig’s (1985) knowledge from testimonial sources
(trust in other people's testimonies).
(possesses the evidence required to justification)
Individuals know propositions vicariously
(without possessing justification)
Trust is as fundamental to knowledge
as epistemic justification
Hardwig’s dilemma is avoided by
Mundane knowledge scholars:
Individuals do possess sufficient evidence to justify their testimonially obtained beliefs (Individuals possess indirect evidence).
(Adler 1994; Fricker 2002, 374; Goldman 2001, 106-7)
Ethnographic field studies
a person may trust another person on some matter to some extent, but distrust her on another issue.
Trust may be
rational or irrational
and come in degrees
Assess collaborators’ particular testimonies and general credibility over time (Wagenknecht 2015)
(responses to clarification questions)
(b) relying on
which are regarded as gate-keepers for credibility.
(e.g. prestigious institution may be accorded more trust for a prima facie suspect claim than a researcher affiliated with a less prestigious institution for the same claim)
When researchers are persuaded through personal observation and interaction that their peers have the tacit knowledge required to successfully carry out the experiments they describe in their published papers, do they trust their results (Collins 2001)
Testimony as an iterated prisoner dilemma game (testifying is analogous to cooperating, rewarding reliable researchers, punishing unreliable ones) explain how scientific collaboration is possible. (Blais 1987)
(a) Some request for information sharing occur only once (hence do not correspond to an iterated game)
(b) some researchers cannot know when their trust is violated (Frost Arnold 2014)
(c) especially junior researchers and graduate students, are not in a position to retaliate to trust violations
institutional sanctions on fraud or trust violation are often missing or ineffective, and therefore cannot account for researchers' trustworthiness. (Hardwig 1991).
Scientific collaboration is grounded in moral trust. Moral trust is grounded in scientists’ evaluation of their peer's moral character (Frost Arnold).
Ethnographic field studies
INTERNAL: There are conventional standards that are shared by the entire scientific community. These standards set the weighing of inductive risks that are and should be used by all researchers in a field. Violating trust is defined as infringing these conventions – either by fraudulent or sloppy research. (Wilholt 2009, Gerken 2015).
EXTERNAL: inductive risks should set the norm of testimony of scientists to outsiders to the scientific community (John 2015).
OUTSIDE: inductive risks set norms of testimony in general, not just in science (Freedman 2014).
A similar problem: reports in interdisciplinary research are made under different, possibly conflicting background assumptions that correspond to different fields. How can scientists from different fields trust each other's work? (Andersen & Wagenknecht 2013)
(a) one person (a leader) is responsible to the integration of research from different fields
(b) researchers gradually learn each other’s background assumptions
(c) researchers negotiate background assumptions with their collaborators from other fields.
Do we trust individual researchers, or the community as a whole?
scientists trust the conventions of a community, which are not reducible to the beliefs of an individual, hence the entire community is an object of trust (Wilholt 2016)
Ontology of group belief and group knowledge
An account to subscribe (Rolin; Wray 2006, Bird and Lackey 2015)
Do we trust only humans or non-humans as well?
Debate about testimony and trust (e.g. Latour vs Goldberg).
Some literature of this debate is
relevance to distributed research
(e.g. Knorr-Cetina and Giere; Nickel et. al 2010)
research is becoming more common. There are many people involved in some projects to the extent that it is
impossible to identify a lead author.
How, then, can trust be established?
Who is an author?
Who is accountable for a scientific paper?
This is still an open question both for scientists and social epistemologists who study them (Kukla 2012; Hubener, Kukla and Weinsberg).
The problem is aggravated by the
phenomenon of ghost writing
– lead authors are increasingly a rubber stamp for other people's work (Sismomdo 2007, 2009, 2010).
Ontology of group beliefs
Lead authors have a special role in collaborative research. Researchers often trust the results of a collaborative research paper according to
identity of the lead authors
(Andersen & Wagenknecht 2013).
This issue is underexplored in social epistemology, especially of science.
Automatic implicit trust in an artefact is one of C&C's condition for this artefact's being part of an agent's extended cognition/mind (the "trust and glue criteria").
So does it make sense to talk to talk of distributed epistemic labor in terms of distributed cognition? (active externalism)
But Record and Miller argue that this isn't a good condition – epistemic responsibility sometimes requires critically distancing oneself from the artefact's outputs, which means that it is not part of one's cognitive system.
Collins (2001) Tacit Knowledge Trust and the Q of Sapphire. Social studies of science, 31(1), 71-85.
Wagenknecht (2015) Facing the Incompleteness of Epistemic Trust. Social Epistemology, 29(2), 160-184.
Blais, M. J. (1987). Epistemic tit for tat. The Journal of Philosophy, 84(7), 363-375.
Frost-Arnold K (2014) Trustworthiness and truth: The epistemic pitfalls of Internet accountability. Episteme 11: 63-81.
Hardwig, J. (1991). The role of trust in knowledge. The Journal of Philosophy, 88(12), 693-708.
Frost-Arnold, K. (2013). Moral trust & scientific collaboration. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 44(3), 301-310.
Wilholt, T. (2009). Bias and values in scientific research. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 40(1), 92-101.
Gerken, M. (2015). The Epistemic Norms of Intra-Scientific Testimony. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 45(6), 568–595.
John, S. (2015). Inductive risk and the contexts of communication. Synthese, 192(1), 79-96.
Freedman, K. L. (2015). Testimony and epistemic risk: The dependence account. Social Epistemology, 29(3), 251-269.
Andersen, H., & Wagenknecht, S. (2013). Epistemic dependence in interdisciplinary groups. Synthese, 190(11), 1881-1898.
Torsten Wilholt. 2016. Collaborative Research, Scientific Communities, and the Social Diffusion of Trustworthiness. In Brady & Fricker 2016 The Epistemic Life of Groups: Essays in the Epistemology of Collectives
Wray, K. B. (2006). Scientific authorship in the age of collaborative research. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 37(3), 505-514.
Bird, A, (2014), ‘When is There a Group that Knows?: Distributed Cognition, Scientific Knowledge, and the Social Epistemic Subject’. in: Jennifer Lackey (eds) Essays in Collective Epistemology. Oxford University Press (USA), pp. 42-63
Rolin, K. H. (2014). Susann Wagenknecht’s"'Facing the Incompleteness of epistemic trust'-A Critical Reply". Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.
Mere perception (or Inferential beliefs)
Reliability of Instruments
, iff [...]"
Sense organs that detect an instrument’s output
Mere perception or Inferential beliefs
A causal chain running from a specimen’s sensory properties to the instrument’s output
Record, Isaac. 2009. “Daniel Rothbart, Philosophical Instruments: Minds and Tools at Work”,
Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
Reliability of Instruments
Epistemology of measurements,
Chang, Hasok, and Cartwright, Nancy. 2014 . “Measurement”, In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science, 2nd edition. Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (Eds.), Routledge: London and New York, pp. 411-419.
Tal, Eran. 2013. “Old and New Problems in Philosophy of Measurement”, Philosophical Compass 8(12): 1159-1173.
Tal, Eran. 2015. “Measurement in Science”, In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
conditions for measurement
theoretical quantity concepts
Conditions for relying on instruments
Individual OR social
Philosophy of Science
only persons participate
in the act of testimony
sociologists of knowledge
(e.g. Collins & Kusch 1998; Bloor 1999; Collins 2010),
most philosophical accounts of testimony
(Coady 1992, 268; Lackey 2008, 189).
Only testimony-based beliefs
originate from epistemic subjects
"susceptible to full-blooded normative assessment"
(Goldberg 2012, 191).
It is possible to receive
testimony from instruments
Defended mostly by proponents of Actor-Network Theory, primarily Latour, who claims that testimonies of instruments may be
“even more reliable than [those of] ordinary mortals” (1993, 23).
Also advocated, on different grounds, by a minority of philosophers
(e.g. Humphreys 2009).
Recorded phone message (Green 2006, 27; 2008)
Bloor, David. 1999. "Anti-Latour", Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 30(1): 81-112.
Coady, C. Anthony. J. 1992. Testimony: A Philosophical Study. Oxford University Press.
Collins, Harry M, & Kusch, Martin. 1999. The Shape of Actions: What Humans and Machines Can Do. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Collins, Harry M. 2010. “Humans not instruments”, Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science 4(1): 138-147.
Goldberg, Sanford C. 2012. "Epistemic extendedness, testimony, and the epistemology of instrument-based belief", Philosophical Explorations: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Mind and Action 15(2): 181-197.
Kusch, Martin. 2002. Knowledge by Agreement: The Programme of Communitarian Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lackey, Jennifer. 2008. Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Humphreys, Paul. 2009. “Network Epistemology”, Episteme 6(2): 221-229.
Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Green, Christopher R. 2006. The Epistemic Parity of Testimony, Memory, and Perception. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Notre Dame.
Green, Christopher R. 2008. “The Epistemology of Testimony”, In Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, (eds.) B. Dowden & J. Fieser
Orthodox views of trust, as reduced
to humans behind the technologies
Kukla, R. (2012). “Author TBD”: Radical collaboration in contemporary biomedical research. Philosophy of Science, 79(5), 845-858.
Winsberg, E., Huebner, B., & Kukla, R. (2014). Accountability and values in radically collaborative research. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 46, 16-23.
Goldman, A. (2014). Social Process Reliabilism. Essays in Collective Epistemology, 11-39.
Kallestrup, J. (2016). Group virtue epistemology. Synthese, 1-19.
Palermos, S. O. & Pritchard, D. (2013). Extended Knowledge and Social Epistemology. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, 2(8), 105–120.
Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the Wild. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Chris Dragos (2016) offers fresh insight into the debate about which sorts of groups in
science can be properly said to have knowledge, with a focus on a debate between
K. Brad Wray (2007)
determine which types of groups are relevant to the epistemology of science (see also Gilbert 2000; Andersen 2010; and Fagan 2011).
scientific research teams; scientific specialty communities; and the scientific community as a
research teams only
Kristina Rolin (2008)
Research teams, unlike scientific specialty communities and the scientific community as a whole, have
. In such groups there is a division of labor. Each contributor attends to only some concerns and research problems that contribute to the larger project, which
enables the group as a whole to know things that individually the members of team may not be able to investigate on their own.
Wray insists that neither a scientific specialty community nor the scientific community as a
whole has a division of labor designed to achieve research goals. Instead, these sort of
scientific groups are characterized by
The members of such groups are
likeminded insofar as they have undergone a similar socialization or training. But when these
latter sorts of groups are said to know something, what we really mean is that each individual
member of the group knows. For example, it is individual
chemists that have knowledge of
the periodic table of elements, not the community of chemists.
Thus, there is no irreducibly collective knowledge in these sorts of cases.
an agent is justified in believing something provided she is
able to meet challenges to her claims when they arise. But the assumption is that an agent is justified, by default, until challenged (see Williams 2001; Rolin 2008). Rolin believes that there is no reason to think that scientific specialty communities and the scientific community as a whole cannot satisfy this condition.
Hyundeuk Cheon (2014)
Justification be possessed by an agent or not
not - On this account of justification, an agent (be it an individual or group) may be justified even when some of the traits and features that provide the justification are not possessed by the agent.
compatible with the notion of extended cognition
Wilholt (2016) conventions of a community
Internalism / Externalism debate about justifications
when does a collection of individuals form an entity that is more than just the mereological sum ofits
under what conditions does it know (or believe etc.)?
can we regard this scientific knowledge as an epistemic
state of some social entity?
Each individual is committed to the production of her self interest
mutual interdependence that arises from the division of labour.
wider science, although in this case the division of labour has evolved without a plan being imposed upon the participants.
organic solidarity is likewise an un-designed evolution
Wider science is not a designed system (though it does
have designed components).
differences between members, such as those based on division of labour, can connect people via relations of dependence.
science is indeed an entity with epistemic states—states of ‘scientific knowledge’ in the impersonal sense.
Problem: considered reliable in one context may be considered unreliable in another context