Invention through bricolage: epistemic engineering in scientific communities

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It is widely recognised that knowledge accumulation is an important aspect of scientific communities. In this essay, drawing on a range of material from theoretical biology and behavioural science, I discuss a particular aspect of the intergenerational nature of human communities – “virtual collaboration” (Tomasello 1999) – and how it can lead to epistemic progress without any explicit intentional creativity (Henrich 2016). My aim in this paper is to make this work relevant to theorists working on the social structures of science so that these processes can be utilised and optimised in scientific communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalRT: A Journal on Research Policy & Evaluation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • epistemic engineering
  • thought styles
  • Philip Kitcher
  • virtual collaboration
  • cumulative culture
  • philosophy of science
  • scientific communities
  • cultural niche
  • interdisciplinarity
  • Joseph Henrich


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