Hostname: page-component-546b4f848f-zwmfq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-06-01T23:48:07.542Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Diversity, Ability, and Expertise in Epistemic Communities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


The Hong and Page ‘diversity trumps ability’ result has been used to argue for the more general claim that a diverse set of agents is epistemically superior to a comparable group of experts. Here we extend Hong and Page’s model to landscapes of different degrees of randomness and demonstrate the sensitivity of the ‘diversity trumps ability’ result. This analysis offers a more nuanced picture of how diversity, ability, and expertise may relate. Although models of this sort can indeed be suggestive for diversity policies, we advise against interpreting such results overly broadly.

Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Alexander, Jason M. 2013. “Preferential Attachment and the Search for Successful Theories.” Philosophy of Science 80 (5): 769–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alexander, Jason M., Himmelreich, Johannes, and Thompson, Christopher. 2015. “Epistemic Landscapes, Optimal Search, and the Division of Cognitive Labor.” Philosophy of Science 82 (3): 424–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alexandrova, Anna, and Northcott, Robert. 2009. “Progress in Economics: Lessons from the Spectrum Auctions.” In Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics, ed. Kincaid, H. and Ross, D., 306–36. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Anderson, Elizabeth. 2006. “The Epistemology of Democracy.” Episteme 3 (1): 822.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brennan, Jason. 2017. Against Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bright, Liam K. 2017. “Decision Theoretic Model of the Productivity Gap.” Erkenntnis 82 (2): 421–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cheryan, Sapna, Plaut, Victoria C., Handron, Caitlin, and Hudson, Lauren. 2013. “The Stereotypical Computer Scientist: Gendered Media Representations as a Barrier to Inclusion for Women.” Sex Roles 69 (1–2): 5871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chesler, Naomi C., Barabino, Gilda, Bhatia, Sangeeta N., and Richards-Kortum, Rebecca. 2010. “The Pipeline Still Leaks and More than You Think: A Status Report on Gender Diversity in Biomedical Engineering.” Annals of Biomedical Engineering 38 (5): 1928–35.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Elga, Adam. 2007. “Reflection and Disagreement.” Noûs 41 (3): 478502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferrini-Mundy, Joan. 2013. “Driven by Diversity.” Science 340 (6130): 278.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fontanari, José F., and Rodrigues, Francisco A. 2016. “Influence of Network Topology on Cooperative Problem-Solving Systems.” Theory in Biosciences 135 (3): 101–10.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gibbs, Kenneth D. Jr., McGready, John, Bennett, Jessica C., and Griffin, Kimberly. 2014. “Biomedical Science Ph.D. Career Interest Patterns by Race/Ethnicity and Gender.” PloS One 9 (12): e114736.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Goldman, Alvin I. 2001. “Experts: Which Ones Should You Trust?Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1): 85110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grim, Patrick. 2009. “Threshold Phenomena in Epistemic Networks.” In Complex Adaptive Systems and the Threshold Effect: Views from the Natural and Social Sciences; Papers from the AAAI Fall Symposium, ed. Hadzikadic, Mirsad and Carmichael, Ted, 5360. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI.Google Scholar
Grim, Patrick, Rosenberger, Robert, Rosenfeld, Adam, Anderson, Brian, and Eason, Robert E. 2013. “How Simulations Fail.” Synthese 190 (12): 2367–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gunn, Paul. 2014. “Democracy and Epistocracy.” Critical Review 26:12, 59–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Handley, Ian M., Brown, Elizabeth R., Moss-Racusin, Corinne A., and Smith, Jessi L. 2015. “Quality of Evidence Revealing Subtle Gender Biases in Science Is in the Eye of the Beholder.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (43): 13201–6.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hardwig, John. 1985. “Epistemic Dependence.” Journal of Philosophy 82 (7): 335–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Holman, Bennett, Berger, William, Grim, Patrick, and Bramson, Aaron. 2018. “Diversity and Democracy: Agent-Based Modeling in Political Philosophy.” Historical Social Research 43 (1): 259–84.Google Scholar
Hong, Lu, and Page, Scott E. 2004. “Groups of Diverse Problem Solvers Can Outperform Groups of High-Ability Problem Solvers.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101:16385–89.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kitcher, Philip. 1993. The Advancement of Science: Science without Legend, Objectivity without Illusions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Kuehn, Daniel. 2017. “Diversity, Ability, and Democracy: A Note on Thompson’s Challenge to Hong and Page.” Critical Review 29 (1): 7287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Landemore, Helen. 2013. Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rules of the Many. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Martini, Carlo. 2014. “Experts in Science: A View from the Trenches.” Synthese 191 (1): 315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mayo-Wilson, Connor, Zollman, Kevin J., and Danks, David. 2011. “The Independence Thesis: When Individual and Social Epistemology Diverge.” Philosophy of Science 78 (4): 653–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Megginson, Robert. 2015. “A Plea for Civility and Collegiality.” Notices of the American Mathematical Society 62 (1): 9.Google Scholar
Nunn, Robin. 2012. “Many-Models Medicine: Diversity as the Best Medicine.” Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18 (5): 974–78.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Page, Scott E. 2007. The Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Page, Scott E. 2011. Diversity and Complexity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Page, Scott E. 2015. “Diversity Trumps Ability and the Proper Use of Mathematics.” Notices of the AMS 62 (1): 910.Google Scholar
Pickett, Christopher L., Corb, Benjamin W., Matthews, C. Robert, Sundquist, Wesley I., and Berg, Jeremy M. 2015. “Toward a Sustainable Biomedical Research Enterprise: Finding Consensus and Implementing Recommendations.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (35): 10832–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Quissell, Kathryn, and Walt, Gill. 2015. “The Challenge of Sustaining Effectiveness over Time: The Case of the Global Network to Stop Tuberculosis.” Health Policy and Planning. doi:10.1093/heapol/czv035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Singer, Daniel J. 2019. “Diversity, not Randomness, Trumps Ability.” Philosophy of Science, in this issue.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stegenga, Jacob. 2016. “Three Criteria for Consensus Conferences.” Foundations of Science 21 (1): 3549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thompson, Abigail. 2014. “Does Diversity Trump Ability? An Example of the Misuse of Mathematics in the Social Sciences.” Notices of the American Mathematical Society 61:1024–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
UCLA. 2014. “Proposed Diversity Requirement.” College Diversity Initiative Committee. Scholar
Weymark, John A. 2015. “Cognitive Diversity, Binary Decisions, and Epistemic Democracy.” Episteme 12 (4): 497511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zollman, Kevin. J. 2007. “The Communication Structure of Epistemic Communities.” Philosophy of Science 74 (5): 574–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zollman, Kevin. J. 2011. “Computer Simulation and Emergent Reliability in Science.” Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 14 (4): 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zollman, Kevin. J. 2013. “Network Epistemology: Communication in Epistemic Communities.” Philosophy Compass 8 (1): 1527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: PDF

Grim et al supplementary material

Grim et al supplementary material

Download Grim et al supplementary material(PDF)