A Taxonomy for the Social Agents of Scientific Change

Nicholas Overgaard


Although we accept that a scientific mosaic is a set of theories and methods accepted and employed by a scientific community, scientific community currently lacks a proper definition in scientonomy. In this paper, I will outline a basic taxonomy for the bearers of a mosaic, i.e. the social agents of scientific change. I begin by differentiating between accidental group and community through the respective absence and presence of a collective intentionality. I then identify two subtypes of community: the epistemic community that has a collective intentionality to know the world, and the non-epistemic community that does not have such a collective intentionality. I note that both epistemic and non-epistemic communities might bear mosaics, but that epistemic communities are the intended social agents of scientific change because their main collective intentionality is to know the world and, in effect, to change their mosaics. I conclude my paper by arguing we are not currently in a position to properly define scientific community per se because of the risk of confusing pseudoscientific communities with scientific communities. However, I propose that we can for now rely on the definition of epistemic community as the proper social agent of scientific change.

Suggested Modifications

[Sciento-2017-0012]: Accept the following taxonomy of group, accidental group, and community:

  • Group ≡ two or more people who share any characteristic.
  • Accidental group ≡ a group that does not have a collective intentionality.
  • Community ≡ a group that has a collective intentionality. 

[Sciento-2017-0013]: Provided that the preceding modification [Sciento-2017-0012] is accepted, accept that communities can consist of other communities.

[Sciento-2017-0014]: Provided that modification [Sciento-2017-0012] is accepted, accept the following definitions of epistemic community and non-epistemic community as subtypes of community:

  • Epistemic community ≡ a community that has a collective intentionality to know the world.
  • Non-epistemic community ≡ a community that does not have a collective intentionality to know the world.

[Sciento-2017-0015]: Provideed that modification [Sciento-2017-0013] and [Sciento-2017-0014] are accepted, accept that a non-epistemic community can consist of epistemic communities.


theoretical scientonomy; social agents of scientific change; group; accidental group; community; epistemic community; non-epistemic community; scientific community; pseudoscientific community

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