Conservatism and the scientific state of nature

Erich Kummerfeld, Kevin J.S. Zollman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1076
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science. All rights reserved.


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