A Structural Topic Model of the Features and the Cultural Origins of the Baconian Program

94 Pages Posted: 29 May 2017

See all articles by Peter Grajzl

Peter Grajzl

Washington and Lee University - Department of Economics; CESifo

Peter Murrell

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 1, 2018

Abstract

We use machine-learning methods to study the features and origins of the ideas of Francis Bacon, a key figure who contributed to the intellectual roots of a cultural paradigm that spurred modern economic development. Bacon’s works are the data in an estimation of a structural topic model, a state-of-the-art methodology for analysis of text corpora. The estimates uncover sixteen topics prominent in Bacon’s opus. Two are key elements of the ideas usually associated with Bacon—inductive epistemology and fact-seeking. The utilitarian promise of science and the centralized organization of the scientific quest, embraced by Bacon’s followers, were not emphasized by him. We provide the first quantitative evidence that the genesis of Bacon’s epistemology lies in his experience in the common-law. Combining our findings with accepted arguments in the existing literature, we suggest that the effects of common-law culture can help explain the coincidence of political and economic development in England.

Keywords: Baconian program, culture, law, knowledge, natural philosophy, politics, religion

JEL Classification: B310, Z100, C550, N730, K100, P100

Suggested Citation

Grajzl, Peter and Murrell, Peter, A Structural Topic Model of the Features and the Cultural Origins of the Baconian Program (July 1, 2018). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6443. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2976290

Peter Grajzl (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University - Department of Economics ( email )

Lexington, VA 24450
United States

HOME PAGE: http://home.wlu.edu/~grajzlp/

CESifo ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Peter Murrell

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3476 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

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