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The Epistemic Benefit of Transient Diversity

Kevin J. S. Zollman
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 72, No. 1 (Jan., 2010), pp. 17-35
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20642278
Page Count: 19
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The Epistemic Benefit of Transient Diversity
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Abstract

There is growing interest in understanding and eliciting division of labor within groups of scientists. This paper illustrates the need for this division of labor through a historical example, and a formal model is presented to better analyze situations of this type. Analysis of this model reveals that a division of labor can be maintained in two different ways: by limiting information or by endowing the scientists with extreme beliefs. If both features are present however, cognitive diversity is maintained indefinitely, and as a result agents fail to converge to the truth. Beyond the mechanisms for creating diversity suggested here, this shows that the real epistemic goal is not diversity but transient diversity.

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