Author archives: Jesús Zamora Bonilla

The Grand Bazaar of Wisdom (5): Institutionalist theories of the economics of science

The Grand Bazaar of Wisdom (5): Institutionalist theories of the economics of science

EconomicsPhilosophy of science

By Jesús Zamora Bonilla

I will end this survey of the main contributions to the economics of scientific knowledge (ESK) by discussing the works which attempt to offer a more or less systematic conception of the process of scientific discovery; in this entry, I will talk about ‘institutionalist’ theories, i.e., those that abstain from using mathematical models. The first […]

The Grand Bazaar of Wisdom (4): From the “free market of ideas” to the “republic of science”

The Grand Bazaar of Wisdom (4): From the “free market of ideas” to the “republic of science”

Philosophy of science

By Jesús Zamora Bonilla

Traditionally, economics is not only about the optimisation of some magnitudes, be they utility, profits, wealth, or social welfare. Beyond the assumption that economic agents are rational beings who always try to make the best possible choice, there is the indisputable fact that the objects of economic research are social phenomena, that have to do […]

The moral limits of markets (1): of fines and gifts

The moral limits of markets (1): of fines and gifts

EconomicsEthics

By Jesús Zamora Bonilla

Israeli nurseries are particularly famous amongst economists (at least, amongst experimental economists). An already classical study shown that, following a ‘natural experiment’ in which some day-care centers opted for issuing a fine to parents for late children’s pickups, while other nurseries didn’t, not only helped to decrease (as expected) the frequency of late pickups, but […]

The Grand Bazaar of Wisdom (3): Epistemic utility approaches

The Grand Bazaar of Wisdom (3): Epistemic utility approaches

Philosophy of science

By Jesús Zamora Bonilla

Another route that has been followed to apply economic thinking to scientific methodology has consisted into trying to define a specific (‘cognitive’, or ‘epistemic’) utility function which rational scientific research should maximise. This has been the strategy of what is usually called cognitive decision theory , which is basically an adaptation of the Bayesian theory […]

The Grand Bazaar of Wisdom (2): Cost-benefit approaches to the growth of scientific knowledge

The Grand Bazaar of Wisdom (2): Cost-benefit approaches to the growth of scientific knowledge

EconomicsEpistemologyPhilosophy of science

By Jesús Zamora Bonilla

The first known application of modern economic techniques to solving epistemic problems in science was very explicit in describing the value of a scientific theory as the difference between ‘costs’ and ‘benefits’. I’m referring to Charles Sanders Peirce’s ‘Note of the Theory of the Economy of Research’, published in 1879, less than a decade after […]

Deflating truth (3)

Deflating truth (3)

Philosophy of science

By Jesús Zamora Bonilla

We saw in the second entry of this series that predicates like “…is true” have the following linguistic function: applied to an expression that designates a sentence X, they render a new (pro)sentence (“X is true”) that expresses exactly the same as the first proposition. This has lead some philosophers (not a majority, really) to […]