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The Positive Economics Of Methodology

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Author Info

  • KAHN, J.A.
  • LANDSBURG, S.E.
  • STOCKMAN, A.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

Paper provided by University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER) in its series RCER Working Papers with number 165.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: 1989
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:roc:rocher:165

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Postal: University of Rochester, Center for Economic Research, Department of Economics, Harkness 231 Rochester, New York 14627 U.S.A.

Related research

Keywords: methodology ; theory ; information ; research and development;

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Cited by:
  1. Sullivan, Ryan & Timmermann, Allan & White, Halbert, 2001. "Dangers of data mining: The case of calendar effects in stock returns," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 249-286, November.
  2. Mitesh Kataria, 2013. "Confirmation: What's in the evidence?," Jena Economic Research Papers, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics 2013-025, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  3. 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, Department of Economics, UC San Diego qt2z02z6d9, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  4. Kevin D. Hoover & Mark V. Siegler, 2005. "Sound and Fury: McCloskey and Significance Testing in Economics," Econometrics, EconWPA 0511018, EconWPA.

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