The Effortless Economy of Science?

The Effortless Economy of Science?

Science and Cultural Theory

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Book Pages: 472 Illustrations: 9 tables, 1 illus. Published: July 2004

Author: Philip Mirowski

Economics, Science and Technology Studies > Philosophy of Science, Sociology

A leading scholar of the history and philosophy of economic thought, Philip Mirowski argues that there has been a top-to-bottom transformation in how scientific research is organized and funded in Western countries over the past two decades and that these changes necessitate a reexamination of the ways that science and economics interact. Mirowski insists on the need to bring together the insights of economics, science studies, and the philosophy of science in order to understand how and why particular research programs get stabilized through interdisciplinary appropriation, controlled attributions of error, and funding restrictions.

Mirowski contends that neoclassical economists have persistently presumed and advanced an “effortless economy of science,” a misleading model of a self-sufficient and conceptually self-referential social structure that transcends market operations in pursuit of absolute truth. In the stunning essays collected here, he presents a radical critique of the ways that neoclassical economics is used to support, explain, and legitimate the current social practices underlying the funding and selection of “successful” science projects. He questions a host of theories, including the portraits of science put forth by Karl Popper, Michael Polanyi, and Thomas Kuhn. Among the many topics he examines are the social stabilization of quantitative measurement, the repressed history of econometrics, and the social construction of the laws of supply and demand and their putative opposite, the gift economy. In The Effortless Economy of Science? Mirowski moves beyond grand abstractions about science, truth, and democracy in order to begin to talk about the way science is lived and practiced today.


“[T]he collection of essays shows a wide erudition and some are quite fascinating.” — Bertram Schefold , Journal of Economics

"Mirowski's essays reflect an enormous breadth of knowledge and a willingness to address a wide spectrum of questions, ranging from the foundations of scientific inquiry to issues at the forefront of public policy." — American Scientist

“The Effortless Economy of Science is an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science, history of economics, and science studies. Philip Mirowski shows why work in each of these fields can be better understood by looking through the lens of other fields.” — Bradley W. Bateman, Gertrude B. Austin Professor of Economics, Grinnell College


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Philip Mirowski is Carl Koch Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame. Among his books are Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science; More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature’s Economics; and Science Bought and Sold: Essays in the Economics of Science (coedited with Esther-Mirjam Sent).

Table of Contents Back to Top
Part One From Economics to Science Studies 1

Introduction: Cracks, Hidden Passageways, and False Bottoms: The Economics of Science and Social Studies Economics 3

1. Confessions of an Aging Enfant Terrible 37

Part Two Science as an Economic Phenomenon 51

2. On Playing the Economics Card in the Philosophy of Science: Why It Didn’t Work for Michael Polanyi 53

3. Economics, Science, and Knowledge: Polanyi versus Hayek 72

4. What’s Kuhn Got to Do with It? 85

5. The Economic Consequences of Philip Kitcher 97

6. Re-engineering Scientific Credit in the Era of Globalized Information Economy 116

Part Three Rigorous Quantitative Measurement as a Social Phenomenon 145

7. Looking for Those Natural Numbers: Dimensionless Constants and the Idea of Natural Measurement 147

8. A Visible Hand in the Marketplace of Ideas: Precision Measurement as Arbitrage 169

Part Four Is Econometrics an Empirical Endeavor? 193

9. Brewing, Betting, and Rationality in London, 1822-1844: What Econometrics Can and Cannot Tell Us about Historical Actors 195

10. Why Econometricians Don’t Replicate (Although They Do Reproduce) 213

11. From Mandlebrot to Chaos in Economic Theory 229

12. Mandelbrot’s Economics after a Quarter-Century 251

13. The Collected Economic Works of William Thomas Thornton: An Introduction and Justification 273

14. Smooth Operator: How Marshall’s Demand and Supply-Curves Made Neoclassicism Safe for Public Consumption but Unfit for Science 335

15. Problems in the Paternity of Econometrics: Harry Ludwell Moore 357

16. Refusing the Gift 376

Notes 401

References 427

Index 459
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3322-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3310-4
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