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Armchair Science

Northcott, Robert and Alexandrova, Anna (2014) Armchair Science. [Preprint]

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Abstract

We define the notion of armchair science – roughly, a concentration on the development of idealized theory with only a loose relation to possible empirical application, and in particular with no specific real-world target in mind. Work in this style is both very influential and very widespread in contemporary social and biological science. We propose that it be subjected to what we call efficiency analysis. To this end, we examine in detail the role of the Prisoner’s Dilemma game in explaining the live-and-let-live system in World War One trenches. It yields, together with other considerations, a strong prima facie case that armchair science fails the efficiency analysis, in other words that it absorbs too many scientific resources that would be better spent elsewhere. Philosophy of science should be at the forefront of highlighting this important issue. Yet for several reasons, which we explain, existing philosophical work on modeling has fallen short in this critical role


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Northcott, Robertr.northcott@bbk.ac.uk
Alexandrova, Annaaa686@cam.ac.uk
Keywords: armchair science, economics, prisoners dilemma, world war one, co-operation, efficiency analysis, methodology
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Robert Northcott
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2014 12:34
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2014 19:32
Item ID: 10874
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 11 July 2014
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10874

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