A Formal Model of Theory Choice in Science
Posted: 12 Sep 1999
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
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