Challenges for ‘Community’ in Science and Values

Cases from Robotics Research

Keywords: scientific community, science and values, democratization, interconnectivity, drones, control systems


Philosophers of science often make reference — whether tacitly or explicitly — to the notion of a scientific community. Sometimes, such references are useful to make our object of analysis tractable in the philosophy of science. For others, tracking or understanding particular features of the development of science proves to be tied to notions of a scientific community either as a target of theoretical or social intervention. We argue that the structure of contemporary scientific research poses two unappreciated, or at least underappreciated, challenges to this concept of the “scientific community” in the philosophy of science. In particular, we will present two case studies from robotics research, broadly construed, which show that (1) the boundedness of the scientific community is threatened when private citizens can develop scientific and technological advances at minimal expense (democratization), and (2) the discreteness of scientific research programs is threatened by the complexly interrelated environment of contemporary scientific work (interconnectivity). Taken together, the extent of democratization and interconnectivity present a significant challenge for any practically oriented philosophy of science, one which we hope will be taken on directly by philosophers in the future.

How to Cite
Pence, C., & Hicks, D. (2023). Challenges for ‘Community’ in Science and Values. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 16(44), 1-32. Retrieved from