Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (698.58 kB)

Forensic Science Discplines, Truth and Collective Knowledge: A Framework for Reforming Knowledge Production in Forensic Science

Download (698.58 kB)
posted on 2022-10-13, 04:53 authored by Ellen Konza

This thesis provides a framework for the reform of knowledge production in forensic science. The perspective offered is a collective epistemological analysis of forensic science disciplines as plural epistemic agents. I argue that forensic disciplines provide a valuable source of epistemic reform due to disciplines acting as influential socio-epistemic forces within the current structure of forensic science. My proposal is that forensic science disciplines ought to move from a joint commitment model of collective knowledge, towards one centred on a model of distributed cognition. I begin by identifying tension between the ideal of forensic science as a provider of truth and the reality of forensic science today. In response, I suggest that the fostering of forensic experts who engage in a critical discourse is a fundamental requirement of any serious reform of forensic science. In this thesis I draw together a number of different concerns within the literature, including the desirability of certain epistemic values, the notion of ‘model forensic scientists’, and the promotion of scientific knowledge as ‘social knowledge’. I then develop a characterisation of forensic science disciplines as plural subjects with collective knowledge. I argue that currently forensic disciplines can be conceived as most closely aligning with a joint commitment model of collective knowledge, the consequence of which is the creation of barriers to the development of model forensic scientists. As a path to reform, I claim that forensic disciplines should be structured to better reflect a distributed cognition model of group knowledge. With a focus on holistic aim development and the division of labour via discrete task allocation, a distributed model encourages desirable epistemic values and the development of ‘model forensic scientists’, crucial to positive reform within a ‘truth-orientated’ account of forensic science.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction -- Chapter 2 – The State of Concern -- Chapter 3 – A Social Approach to Forensic Science Reform -- Chapter 4 – Forensic Science Disciplines and Collective Epistemology -- Chapter 5 – A Distributed Model of Forensic Science Disciplines -- Chapter 6 – Conclusion -- References


This thesis is presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Albert Atkin


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




90 pages

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager