A Formal Model of Theory Choice in Science

Posted: 12 Sep 1999

See all articles by William A. Brock

William A. Brock

University of Wisconsin, Madison - Department of Economics; University of Missouri at Columbia - Department of Economics

Steven N. Durlauf

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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.

JEL Classification: A12, D7

Suggested Citation

Brock, William A. and Durlauf, Steven N., A Formal Model of Theory Choice in Science. Economic Theory, Vol. 14, Iss. 1, July 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=176552

William A. Brock

University of Wisconsin, Madison - Department of Economics ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-6655 (Phone)
608-263-3876 (Fax)

University of Missouri at Columbia - Department of Economics ( email )

118 Professional Building
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

Steven N. Durlauf (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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