Normativity and Self-Interest in Scientific Research

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In this paper I want to present the guiding lines of a research programme into the economics of scientific knowledge, a programme whose ultimate goal is to develop what I would like to call a contractarian epistemology. The structure of the paper is as follows: in the first section I will comment on two conflicting approaches to the topic of rationality in science: the view of the rationality of scientific knowledge as deriving from the employment of sound methodological norms, and the view of scientists as rational agents pursuing the optimisation of their own personal and professional interests. In section 2 I will try to make both approaches mutually consistent by showing that a competition among rational "recognition-seekers" is only possible if they agree in accepting some system of methodological norms. Section 3 will be devoted to analyse the main kinds and properties of these norms. Finally, in section 4 I will discuss a question which is far from being easy and innocent: why are scientific norms obeyed by researchers, once they have been established in a scientific discipline?

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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