The Structure of Scientific Fraud: The Relationship Between Paradigms and Misconduct

  • Ben Trubody
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 413)


This chapter argues that the level of difficulty in committing scientific fraud is a route to analysing the similarities and differences between the sciences. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn presents a paradigmatic theory of scientific change. “Paradigms”, I argue, set a limit for things that pretend to be scientific, where the possibility and potential for “fraud” is dependent upon the strength or weakness of the paradigm. For the dishonest scientist two types of expertise become useful: (a) “contributional expertise” and (b) “interactional expertise”. The weaker the paradigm is, the more these two types of expertise begin to blur; what constitutes an act of contribution becomes unclear. I highlight a criterion of “reasonableness” and “significance” as being key to “contribution”. A claim that is unreasonable or trivial will either not be taken seriously, or draw too much critical attention, both unsuitable for fraud. What is deemed “reasonable” or “significant”, however, is relative to the field of practice: in some sciences, different practitioners are allowed to hold fundamentally contradictory positions, whereas in others rejection of a widely accepted belief would be taken to signify poor practice.


Anaesthesiology Cold fusion Contributional expertise Interactional expertise Kuhnian paradigm Scientific fraud Scientific misconduct Semi-conductor Social psychology 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Trubody
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Liberal and Performing ArtsUniversity of GloucestershireCheltenhamUK

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