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A formal model of theory choice in science

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  • William A. Brock

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706 USA)

  • Steven N. Durlauf

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706 USA)

Abstract

Since the work of Thomas Kuhn, the role of social factors in the scientific enterprise has been a major concern in the philosophy and history of science. In particular, conformity effects among scientists have been used to question whether science naturally progresses over time. Using neoclassical economic reasoning, this paper develops a formal model of scientific theory choice which incorporates social factors. Our results demonstrate that the influence of social factors on scientific progress is more complex than previously thought. The patterns of theory choice predicted by the model seem consistent with historical episodes of theory change.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 14 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 113-130

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:14:y:1999:i:1:p:113-130

Note: Received: April 8, 1997; revised version: April 30, 1998
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Related research

Keywords: Interactive discrimination · Evolution of beliefs · Scientific progress.;

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  1. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 1995. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions I: Theory," NBER Working Papers 5291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Blume Lawrence E., 1993. "The Statistical Mechanics of Strategic Interaction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 387-424, July.
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