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  • Author or Editor: Georg Franck x
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Abstract  

Science is the core sector of present-day knowledge production. Yet, the mechanisms of science as an industry are poorly understood. The economic theory of science is still in its infancy, and philosophy of science has only sparsely addressed the issue of economic rationality. Research, however, is costly. Inefficient use of resources consumed by the scientific industry is as detrimental to the collective advancement of knowledge as are deficiencies in method. Economic inefficiency encompasses methodological inadequacy. Methods are inadequate if they tend to misallocate time and effort. If one omits the question of how inputs are transformed into outputs in self-organised knowledge production, this means neglecting an essential aspect of the collective rationality of science. A self-organised tendency towards efficiency comes to the fore as soon as science is described as an economy in which researchers invest their own attention in order to obtain the attention of others. Viewed like this, scientific communication appears to be a market where information is exchanged for attention. Scientific information is measured in terms of the attention it earns. Since scientists demand scientific information as a means of production, the attention that a theory attracts is a measure of its value as a capital good. On the other hand, the attention a scientist earns is capitalised into the asset called reputation. Elaborating the ideas introduced in Franck (1998) and (1999), the paper describes science as a highly developed market economy. Science conceived as capital market covers the specific conditions under which scientists, while maximising their reputation, optimise output in the eyes of those competent to judge. Attention is not just any resource. It is the resource whose efficient use is called intelligence. Science, as an industry transforming attention into cognitive output, is bound to miss the hallmark of rationality if it does not pass a test of collective intelligence. The paper closes with considering the prospective outcome of such a test.

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