Science, the Market and Iterative Knowledge

The second paper co-authored with Dave Hardwick has now been published in Studies in Emergent Order:

Abstract: In a recent paper (Hardwick & Marsh, in press) we examine the recent tensions between the two broadly successful spontaneous orders, namely the Market and Science. We argued for an epistemic pluralism, the view that freedom and liberty (indeed the very concept of liberalism and civil society) exists at the nexus of a manifold of spontaneous forces, and that no single epistemic system should dominate. We also briefly introduced the concept of “iterative” knowledge to characterize the essentially dynamic nature of scientific knowledge. Herein lies a tension. The Market (and perhaps the prevailing culture at large) sees scientific knowledge in cumulative terms, that is, progressing to a conclusion in a linear fashion. This relatively static understanding of medical science as it relates to pharmaceutical studies can have a corrosive effect on the practice of medicine and ultimately, we believe, on the proper functioning of the market itself. In this paper we examine this tension in much closer detail by focusing upon the demands of the market, specifically the pharmaceutical industry, and the science upon which it is based. In other words, we expound upon a clash of epistemic value – one (science) that sees knowledge as essentially iterative (dynamic yet tentative) and the other (the Market) that harvests conclusive scientific knowledge (ostensibly as a fixed and firm commodity) functional to its own interests. Clinical Trials that are sharply focused with precisely determined deliverables often manifest this tension in the sharpest of relief. As a means of recovering drug development and testing costs, conclusive assessment is required to avoid creating serious financial problems for the companies themselves not to mention issues in the public interest.


Kuhn’s Evolutionary Social Epistemology

Here’s a review of K. Brad Wray’s Kuhn’s Evolutionary Social Epistemology. (Wray, by the way, has been a strong contributor to EPISTEME). It’s also worth checking out Alexander Bird’s entry on Kuhn for Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Kuhn is one of those thinkers whose work has been tarnished by academics who need an off-the-peg philosophical outlook to paper over the lack of a critical philosophical culture.

Thomas Kuhn’s work occupies a strange place in the history of philosophy. With over one million copies sold, Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) is probably the most popular academic philosophy book of the twentieth century. Yet, despite its intuitive appeal Kuhn’s work has been received very critically by philosophers themselves. Almost fifty years later, Brad Wray wants to move past the popular negative reading of Kuhn and searches for positive insights in his work.


The Morality of Freedom 25 Years On

Seeing an announcement for an upcoming conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of Joe RazThe Morality of Freedom nudged me to post recordings of a similar conference held to commemorate the book’s 20th anniversary with no less than Raz himself in attendance.

Part 1: 

Part 2: 

Part 3: