Edited by John B. Davis, Alain Marciano and Jochen Runde
Chapter 9: The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes
183 irrefutable by anyone working within the programme. Thus in the Newtonian research programme, the negative heuristics would include ‘Do not question Newton’s laws of motion or the law of gravity’. In economics, comparable heuristics might be ‘Do not construct theories in which irrational behaviour plays a signiﬁcant role’, which would protect a hard-core assumption that ‘Agents optimize subject to constraints’. ‘Positive heuristics’, on the other hand, provide rules by which research is to be conducted. These rules lay out the strategy by which anomalies are to be dealt with, and how the research programme is to be developed. They are concerned with the programme’s ‘protective belt’: the assumptions and procedures which are needed in order to apply the hard-core assumptions to speciﬁc problems, but which can be modiﬁed without calling the programme into question. Thus Newtonian astronomy starts by modelling planets as point-masses, then as spheres and then as spheres that are distorted by their rotation. When the theory fails to predict correctly, such assumptions can be modiﬁed without threatening anything that is fundamental to the programme. In economics, such positive heuristics might include ‘Explain Pareto-inefﬁcient allocations of resources by ﬁnding missing markets’, or ‘Start by assuming identical agents and full information, dropping these assumptions when necessary’. Though research programmes involve an invariant hard core, these changes in the protective belt mean that research programmes are not static. New facts are discovered, new problems emerge, and as a result modiﬁcations have to be...
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