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CSS colloquium: Joshua Habgood-Coote, University of Bristol

What’s the point of Authors?

Info about event


Wednesday 12 September 2018,  at 14:15 - 15:45


Koll G4 (1532-222)

In this paper, I want to start to untangle some of the philosophical issues associated with our practices of ascribing authorship for collaborative work, with an eye to formulating better guidelines for authorship.

 I will focus on the following questions:

1.     What epistemic, social, and ethical functions are played by our practices of ascribing authorship for academic papers?

2.      What  ways of ascribing authorship would best address these functions? Can any one way of ascribing authorship address all of the functions?

I hope to make three contributions. First, I hope to build on established debates about authorship to offer a  general framework for assessing practices of assigning authorship. Secondly, to argue that the different functions of authorship are incoherent, making different predictions about who should be an author. Thirdly, I will argue that this incoherence points in the direction of replacing the role of an author with a number of different roles which address the different functions. In the final section I will set out a proposal that does just this, which I will call the no author account of authorship.


Biagoioli, M., and Galison, P. (2003) Scientific Authorship: Credit and Intellectual Property in Science, Routledge, 

Bird, Alexander (2010). Social knowing: The social sense of 'scientific knowledge'. Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):23-56

de Ridder, Jeroen (2014). Epistemic dependence and collective scientific knowledge. Synthese 191 (1):1-17

Gerken, Mikkel (2015). The Epistemic Norms of Intra-Scientific Testimony. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 45 (6):568-595

Rennie, D., Yank, V., & Emanuel, L. (1997). When authorship fails: a proposal to make contributors accountable. JAMA, 278(7), 579-585.

Shapin, S. (1989). The invisible technician. American scientist, 77(6), 554-563.

Winsberg, E., Huebner, B., & Kukla, R. (2014). Accountability and values in radically collaborative research. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 46, 16-23.

Wray, K., B., (2018) The Impact of Collaboration on the Epistemic Cultures of Science, in Boyer-Kassem, K.,Mayo-Wilson, C,. Weisberg, M.,(eds) Scientific Collaboration and Collective Knowledge: New Essays OUP, Oxford 117-134 

Wuchty, S., Jones, B. F.,  Uzzi, B., (2007) The Increasing Dominance of Teams in Production of Knowledge, Science,   316(5827):. 1036-1039 DOI: 10.1126/science.1136099

Zollman, K. J. (2018). The credit economy and the economic rationality of science. The Journal of Philosophy, 115(1), 5-33.

Coffee/tea, cake and fruit will be served at 2 pm.