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The Problem of Intransigently Biased Agents

Bennett Holman and Justin P. Bruner
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 82, No. 5 (December 2015), pp. 956-968
DOI: 10.1086/683344
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/683344
Page Count: 13
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The Problem of Intransigently Biased Agents
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Abstract

In recent years the social nature of scientific inquiry has generated considerable interest. We examine the effect of an epistemically impure agent on a community of honest truth seekers. Extending a formal model of network epistemology pioneered by Zollman, we conclude that an intransigently biased agent prevents the community from ever converging to the truth. We explore two solutions to this problem, including a novel procedure for endogenous network formation in which agents choose whom to trust. We contend that our model nicely captures aspects of current problems in medical research and gesture at some morals for medical epistemology more generally.

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