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Line Edslev Andersen responds to Margaret Gilbert's comment on Andersen's paper on collective beliefs and scientific change

"Community Beliefs and Scientific Change: Response to Gilbert, Line Edslev Andersen", Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 6, no. 10 (2017): 37-46

Abstract of Andersen's original paper in Social Epistemology 31(2): 184-191

It has been a common belief among scientists, including mathematicians, that young scientists are especially good at bringing about scientific change. A number of studies suggest, however, that older scientists are not more resistant to change than young scientists are. It is nonetheless worth examining why a scientist’s or mathematician’s outsider status – due to age, educational background, or something else – can sometimes be effective in enabling scientific change. This paper focuses on the case of the solving of the Four Color Problem by Wolfgang Haken and Kenneth Appel. Building on Donald MacKenzie’s paper ‘Slaying the kraken: The sociohistory of a mathematical proof’ (1999), I argue that Haken’s outsider status is central to understanding his success with the problem. On this basis, I offer an argument against Margaret Gilbert’s account of why a scientist’s outsider status can be effective in enabling scientific change.


Link to the exchange between Gilbert and Andersen in Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective