PPE: An institutional view
One way of responding to the question of what PPE is involves mobilizing the tools that PPE involves. That is the exercise attempted in this article. The object is to use PPE as a method to analyze PPE as a subject matter. PPE is, whatever else, an interdisciplinary enterprise; so the point of departure involves analyzing the role and properties of disciplines within the institutional organization of enquiry. The basic idea is that enquiry is governed by a â€˜division of epistemic labourâ€™ in Adam Smithâ€™s sense, and that that division of labour depends for its working on institutions for the reliable certification of claims. Disciplines are such â€˜institutionsâ€™. As such, they are indispensable. But they impose centripetal forces within the organization of enquiry that stand against interdisciplinary work. Understanding these forces offers some hope of securing an â€˜optimalâ€™ compromise between the benefits and costs that disciplines entail. Examples are offered from each of the disciplines involved in PPE separately, and some observations are offered about the architecture of the three disciplinesâ€™ interrelationships.
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