Conservatism and the Scientific State of Nature
Published on Dec 1, 2016in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science1.77
· DOI :10.1093/bjps/axv013
Those who comment on modern scientific institutions are often quick to praise institutional structures that leave scientists to their own devices. These comments reveal an underlying presumption that scientists do best when left alone – when they operate in what we call the scientific state of nature. Through computer simulation, we challenge this presumption by illustrating an inefficiency that arises in the scientific state of nature. This inefficiency suggests that one cannot simply presume that science is most efficient when institutional control is absent. In some situations actively encouraging unpopular, risky science would improve scientific outcomes. ∗The authors would like to thank Liam Bright, P. Kyle Stanford, several anonymous referees, and audiences at conferences in Montreal, Nancy, and Pittsburgh for their helpful comments and suggestions. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. SES 1026586. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.