The Positive Economics of Methodology
AbstractDoes an observation constitute stronger evidence for a theory if it was made after rather than before the theory was formulated, when it may have influenced the theory's construction? Philosophers have discussed this question (of "novel confirmation") but have lacked a formal model of scientific research and incentives. The question applies to all types of research. One example in economics involves evaluating models constructed on the basis of VARs (where a researcher looks at evidence and then constructs a theory) versus structural models with formal econometric tests (where a model is constructed before some of the evidence on it is obtained). This paper develops a simple model of scientific research. It discusses the issues that affect the answer to this question of the timing and theory-construction and observation or experimentation. We also address issues of social versus private incentives in the choice of research strategies, and of socially optimal rewards for researchers in the presence of information and incentive constraints.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.
Volume (Year): 68 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869
Other versions of this item:
- James A. Kahn & Steve Landsburg & Alan C. Stockman, 1989. "The Positive Economics of Methodology," NBER Technical Working Papers 0082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kahn, J.A. & Landsburg, S.E. & Stockman, A.C., 1989. "The Positive Economics Of Methodology," RCER Working Papers 165, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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- Sullivan, Ryan & Timmermann, Allan & White, Halbert, 2001. "Dangers of data mining: The case of calendar effects in stock returns," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 249-286, November.
- Kevin D. Hoover & Mark V. Siegler, 2005.
"Sound and Fury: McCloskey and Significance Testing in Economics,"
- Kevin Hoover & Mark Siegler, 2008. "Sound and fury: McCloskey and significance testing in economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 1-37.
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