The division of labour in science: the tradeoff between specialisation and diversity

Journal of Economic Methodology 17 (1):37-51 (2010)
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Economics is a typical resource for social epistemology and the division of labour is a common theme for economics. As such it should come as no surprise that the present paper turns to economics to formulate a view on the dynamics of scientific communities, with precursors such as Kitcher (1990), Goldman and Shaked (1991) and Hull (1988). But although the approach is similar to theirs, the view defended is different. Mäki (2005) points out that the lessons philosophers draw from economics can go either way depending on the model chosen. Thus, the aims of this paper are (1) to illustrate this flexibility by proposing an alternative model which assumes increasing returns to adoption in science rather than the decreasing returns present in the aforementioned contributions; and (2) to outline the implications of this view for scientific pluralism and institutional design.
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