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This modification introduces two very important concepts to the field of scientonomy - one-sided authority delegation and mutual authority delegation. We have been already actively using this terminology in our research, so it is time we openly accepted what we actually practice. So my verdict is accept.
Modern science involves specialization and a division of labor. Thus instances where scientific communities will rely on the expertise of other scientific communities are all pervasive. The two definitions given here for one-sided and mutual authority delegation seem, in themselves, useful and unproblematic. However, I believe they both inherit problems from their parent, the definition of authority delegation.
Situations where condition 1) of the authority delegation definition is met (ie. where community A accepts that community B is an expert on topic x) are surely extremely widespread in science. However, situations where condition 2) is met are likely to fairly, or perhaps extremely rare. Community B is likely to accept a theory on topic x if community A says so only if community A's views on topic x do not conflict with the accepted theories and employed methods of community B. Where such a conflict occurs, the definition would only be met if community B rejected its own theories without further assessment by its own methods.
Returning to the definitions at issue, one-sided authority delegation is most likely to occur when the community B at issue is a community whose primary goal is non-epistemic. Such a community might rely on community A's views on topic x, and have little of value to contribute to A, making the authority delegation one-sided. Since such a community B would lack its own theories and methods that might come into conflict with community A's views on topic x, the current authority delegation definition is likely to be an unproblematic partner for the application of the one-sided authority delegation definition to real communities.
Mutual authority delegation is likely to pose more problems, since in such cases both the communities in question are likely to be epistemic communities, with theories and methods that might possibly come into conflict over some topics x of mutual concern. Scientific communities that rely on one another's expertise in their respective domains are likely to be very common. Communities that satisfy the mutual authority delegation definition proposed here, on the other hand, are likely to be be quite rare, because of the authority delegation definition's condition 2's restrictive nature.
Paul Patton expresses concern about condition 2 of authority delegation:
"Mutual authority delegation is likely to pose more problems, since in such cases both the communities in question are likely to be epistemic communities, with theories and methods that might possibly come into conflict over some topics x of mutual concern."
Typically, I think the reliance of epistemic communities on the expertise of other epistemic communities is quite common, as Patton acknowledges: "Scientific communities that rely on one another's expertise in their respective domains are likely to be very common." But he is concerned that condition 2 is too restrictive to capture this phenomenon because epistemic communities are reluctant to delegate authority to other epistemic communities when their values conflict.
Personally, I think there is much less of this sort of conflict within science than Patton thinks. While scientific disciplines are likely as jealous of their supremacy within their domains, most authority delegation occurs with communities representing outside domains.
Take for instance the building of a particle accelerator. The particle physicists will delegate to the geological community the authority over questions about the geological stability on the accelerator site. They will also delegate to the civil engineering community the authority over questions about the concrete pour used at the site. While civil engineering may not be an epistemic community (I believe the jury is still out on applied sciences), both geology and civil engineering are based on principles that clash fundamentally with the principles of particle physics – i.e. classical mechanics. This fact does not stop the particle physics community from delegating important questions to them. Just as the civil engineering community and the geology community delegate authority over questions of the subatomic world to particle physicists. Community A will accept a theory on topic x of community B says so, even if values clash, provided that the phenomenon in question, x, is within the domain of B (and not A).
I agree with Paul that there might be more to the notion of mutual delegation than the suggested definition allows. Yet, I also think that we have to separate two issues: it's one thing to ask whether the suggested definition is flawless, it's another thing to ask whether it is the best available on the market. While I do agree that it is far from flawless (after, what is flawless?), it's a fact that we don't have any alternative at the moment. So, I believe that the suggested definition is the best available, and thus is acceptable.
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