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A formal model of theory choice in science

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Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 1999. "A formal model of theory choice in science," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 14(1), pages 113-130.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Blume Lawrence E., 1993. "The Statistical Mechanics of Strategic Interaction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 387-424, July.
    2. Brock, W.A. & Durlauf, S.N., 1995. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions I: Theory," Working papers 9521, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marek Loužek, 2012. "Ekonomie vědy - naděje, nebo léčka?
      [Economics of Science - A Hope or a Pitfall?]
      ," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2012(4), pages 536-550.
    2. Emilio Barucci & Marco Tolotti, 2012. "Identity, reputation and social interaction with an application to sequential voting," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, vol. 7(1), pages 79-98, May.
    3. Kaizoji, Taisei (kaizoji@icu.ac.jp), 2010. "A Behavioral Model of Bubbles and Crashes," MPRA Paper 20352, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2003. "Multinomial Choice with Social Interactions," NBER Technical Working Papers 0288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Bramoullé, Yann & Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2010. "Research cycles," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(5), pages 1890-1920, September.
    6. Henry G. Overman, 2004. "Can we learn anything from economic geography proper?," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(5), pages 501-516, November.
    7. Roberta Patalano, 2007. "Mind-dependence. The past in the grip of the present," Discussion Papers 1_2007, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    8. Paul David & Matthijs den Besten & Ralph Schroeder, 2008. "Will e-Science Be Open Science?," Discussion Papers 08-010, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, revised Jan 2009.
    9. Durlauf, S.N., 1997. "Rational Choice and the Study of Science," Working papers 9709r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    10. D. Sornette, 2014. "Physics and Financial Economics (1776-2014): Puzzles, Ising and Agent-Based models," Papers 1404.0243, arXiv.org.
    11. Levy, Moshe, 2005. "Social phase transitions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 71-87, May.
    12. Wesley Phoa & Sergio Focardi & Frank Fabozzi, 2007. "How do conflicting theories about financial markets coexist?," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(3), pages 363-391.
    13. Roberta Patalano, 2007. "Mind-Dependence. The Past in the Grip of the Present," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 85-107, August.
    14. Damien Besancenot & Radu Vranceanu, 2015. "Fear Of Novelty: A Model Of Scientific Discovery With Strategic Uncertainty," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(2), pages 1132-1139, April.
    15. Damien Besancenot & Radu Vranceanu, 2014. "Fear of novelty : a model of scientific discovery with strategic uncertainty," Working Papers hal-01117929, HAL.
    16. Damien Besancenot & Habib Dogguy, 2015. "Paradigm Shift: A Mean Field Game Approach," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 289-302, July.
    17. Arthur Diamond, 1998. "Book Reviews," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(2), pages 304-310.
    18. Opolot, Daniel, 2012. "Social interactions and complex networks," MERIT Working Papers 014, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    19. Roger Koppl, 2011. "Against representative agent methodology," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 24(1), pages 43-55, March.
    20. Emilio Barucci & Marco Tolotti, 2009. "The dynamics of social interaction with agents’ heterogeneity," Working Papers 189, Department of Applied Mathematics, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia.
    21. Brock,W.A., 2003. "Tipping points, abrupt opinion changes, and punctuated policy change," Working papers 28, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    22. Pigeard de Almeida Prado, Fernando & Belitsky, Vladimir & Ferreira, Alex Luiz, 2011. "Social interactions, product differentiation and discontinuity of demand," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(4-5), pages 642-653.
    23. Carayol, Nicolas & Dalle, Jean-Michel, 2007. "Sequential problem choice and the reward system in Open Science," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 167-191, June.
    24. A. Bassanini, 1997. "Localized Technological Change and Path-Dependent Growth," Working Papers ir97086, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Interactive discrimination · Evolution of beliefs · Scientific progress.;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making

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