Communism and the Incentive to Share in Science

Philosophy of Science 84 (4):698-716 (2017)
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Abstract

The communist norm requires that scientists widely share the results of their work. Where did this norm come from, and how does it persist? Michael Strevens provides a partial answer to these questions by showing that scientists should be willing to sign a social contract that mandates sharing. However, he also argues that it is not in an individual credit-maximizing scientist's interest to follow this norm. I argue against Strevens that individual scientists can rationally conform to the communist norm, even in the absence of a social contract or other ways of socially enforcing the norm, by proving results to this effect in a game-theoretic model. This shows that the incentives provided to scientists through the priority rule are sufficient to explain both the origins and the persistence of the communist norm, adding to previous results emphasizing the benefits of the incentive structure created by the priority rule.

Author's Profile

Remco Heesen
London School of Economics

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