Call for Papers: Social and Cognitive Diversity in Science (Deadline: August 1st, 2021)

Guest editors: Kristina Rolin, Inkeri Koskinen, Jaakko Kuorikoski, and Samuli Reijula

Topical Collection Description:

Diversity is claimed to be epistemically beneficial for research groups and scientific communities. Philosophers have argued that diversity generates and maintains an epistemically productive distribution of research efforts, and it improves the reliability of research results by guarding against the effects of biases. Diversity is also thought to be a source of scientific creativity by leading scientists to propose new solutions to complex research problems, search for new types of evidence, develop new methods of inquiry, and propose new hypotheses and theories. Ideally, diversity gives rise to criticism that improves scientific knowledge in many ways.

While there are many analyses of the epistemic benefits of diversity, only few studies pay attention to costs, risks and trade-offs involved in attempts to increase diversity. Achieving the benefits of diversity may involve the cost of diversity work, and the cost of communication across the boundaries of disciplines or specialties. It may also involve the risk of polarization, and trade-offs between social justice and the epistemic benefits of diversity.

The aim of the special issue is to provide an up-to-date critical assessment of the research on the epistemic significance of diversity in science and to propose ways to move towards empirically more accurate understanding of diversity and its epistemic effects as well as a better account of the moral-political aspects of diversity. We welcome papers applying a variety of philosophical methods, including case study methods, the use of ethnography in philosophy of science, and modeling and simulation methods.

Appropriate topics for submission include, among others:

  • What are the epistemic benefits of social or cognitive diversity (e.g., diversity of theoretical approaches or methods)? Do they come in many kinds and degrees?
  • What are the relevant kinds and degrees of diversity? How is cognitive diversity to be understood? How should philosophers conceptualize social diversity?
  • Which social mechanisms help understand how social diversity gives rise to cognitive diversity, and how social or cognitive diversity leads to epistemically valuable outcomes? What institutional arrangements and policy actions support epistemically beneficial social and cognitive diversity in scientific communities?
  • Are there costs and risks involved in attempts to increase epistemically beneficial diversity? If there are, do the costs and risks affect scientists unevenly? How should scientific communities and institutions manage potential costs and risks?
  • How can scientific organizations avoid diversity free riding, gaining the benefits of diversity without having to increase diversity in the organization or having to pay for the costs of diversity work?
  • How does the epistemic rationale relate to the social justice rationale or the business case for diversity? If there are trade-offs between different rationales for diversity, how should they be balanced?
  • What would be the benefits of increased diversity in philosophy of science?

Manuscripts are submitted via Synthese Editorial Manager:

For further information, please contact the guest editors:

Kristina Rolin (Tampere University):

Inkeri Koskinen (Tampere University):

Jaakko Kuorikoski (University of Helsinki):

Samuli Reijula (University of Helsinki):