The problem of intransigently biased agents

Bennett Holman, Justin P. Bruner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-968
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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