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The Positive Economics of Methodology

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  • Kahn, James A.
  • Landsburg, Steven E.
  • Stockman, Alan C.

Abstract

Does 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 Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 68 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 64-76

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:68:y:1996:i:1:p:64-76

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

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Cited by:
  1. Kataria, Mitesh, 2014. "Confirmation: What's in the evidence?," Working Papers in Economics 594, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  2. Sullivan, Ryan & Timmermann, Allan & White, Halbert, 1998. "Dangers of Data-Driven Inference: The Case of Calendar Effects in Stock Returns," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt2z02z6d9, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  3. Kevin Hoover & Mark Siegler, 2008. "Sound and fury: McCloskey and significance testing in economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 1-37.
  4. 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.

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