Priority fights in economic science: Paradox and resolution

Perspectives on Science 14 (2):215-231 (2006)
: Eponymic honor is a common form of professional recognition in economics, as it is in other sciences. There also seems to be convincing evidence that individuals exposed to economic theory behave less cooperatively and more self-interestedly than individuals who have not been exposed to such economic ideas. Taken together these two facts would seem to suggest that the history of economic thought would be a history of rather contentious priority fights. If economists generally behave in self-interested and non-cooperative ways, and having your name attached to a particular result serves one's professional self-interest, then economists should be quick to fight for these eponymic honors. This means that economists should be continually involved in sordid disputes about who does, and who does not, get credit for various economic discoveries. The paradox is that such priority fights do not exist in economics. The paper examines absence of such disputes from a Mertonian perspective
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DOI 10.1162/posc.2006.14.2.215
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