The Nature And Role Of Originality In Scientific Progress By Stigler

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The Nature and Role of Originality in Scientific Progress is an article which dissects the significance of originality and pioneering in the field of science. (Stigler 1965) portrays a work primarily concerned with the definition, cause and effect of originality in science. First of all, pioneers are original because they have set forth ideas never before known or published. Because of their originally, they earn the right to have their names affixed to the theories they have invented e.g. Walras’ general equilibrium rule.

At the same time, originality is not a quality that rigidly means that no one has ever performed that research before, indeed John Stuart Mill’s thesis, On Liberty, for the most part is actually a break-down of an ancestor’s work while Mill only interjects a few new thoughts. Although John Stuart Mill was not 100% original, he is still considered an original in his field because of a few breakthrough philosophies in economics: non-competing groups, joint products, alternative costs, the economics of the firm, supply and demand and Say’s law. These novel ideas although not entirely new are attributed to Mill because of his command of language and his analytic work.

Originality is a measurement for scientific progress only if the originality accomplishes three things: it discovers a novelty or innovative piece of information; it adds more information to a theory, thus improving on it, or it can negate the truth of a widely-held belief. In all, originality has to charter man toward development and truth. Another criteria to evaluate the efficiency of originality is the closer investigation and refinement of theories already engineered.

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The purpose of originality is to necessary clash with an existing order since each new idea has to continually challenge man to question, revise and reform theories and accepted truths. Originality is not synonymous with development, however, it is positive because it carries a power that can revolutionize, shake and remake – a characteristic much needed in science. Also a risk that must be taken is the infiltration of error in the name of originality.

“The Wealth of Nations (1776) is an intellectual watershed. Adam Smith’s system of natural liberty or laissez faire capitalism represents a sharp break with the past with respect to the relations of citizens to government and the economy.” Composed by Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations is a historical text which advances the idea of capitalism and laissez-faire liberalism. Both philosophies manage to lay the groundwork for America’s government and economy. Adam Smith tends to revive a liberalism of a country’s local economy and the international market. Preceding capitalism and laissez-faire liberalism is a restrictive and imperialistic order controlled by the State. Smith stands out as a great economist since “great economists are those who influence the profession as a whole, and this they can do only if their doctrines do not involve too great a change from the views and knowledge of …the science” (Stigler 3). Smith blazes a trail in the field of economics advocating capitalism and laissez faire liberalism. His views are widely accepted because they fall in line with the predominant socio-political climate in America during the proclamation of independence and promote the interests of equality, meritocracy and industry in a society damaged by aristocratic prejudice and royalist oppression.

Smith’s view is to encourage a liberalization of the world market with no barriers to trade. Instead of an insular, local market, Smith lives and writes The Enlightenment period of world history during which the light of reason shines. Absolute control is no longer pleasing to the enlightened ear. Instead, independence obtains wide currency.

In view of the change in American government from monarchy to democracy, Smith sees the need to break away from the old order of transacting business. The year is 1776 in which the rays of the Enlightenment burst forth; as a result, thinkers are developing new concepts and formulating new opinions. In the old world, the State appropriated and centralized most of the power in business. In The Wealth of Nations, Smith confronted the mercantilist claim that government regulation is necessary to assure that self-interested actions in the market place are consistent with societal well being (Haynes 32). Smith advances the right of non-interference of the State in matters of private business. He is against regulated commerce and the meddling of the government because he knows that government’s interference would work contrary to the private owners’ interests. The watchwords of a private business are economic viability and cost-efficiency. Smith realizes that in light of the liberties of democracy, private citizens should be able to decide for themselves how they are going to manage a business. Here one recognizes a radical shift from State-based economy to a privatized one.

Smith champions the new American economic theory building his new scientific theory on “the community's rejection of one time-honored scientific theory in favor of another incompatible with it. The Declaration of Independence heralded a new remodeled system and did away with an antiquated, anachronistic one. The old aristocratic system is abolished in favor of a meritocratic and broader one. What Smith reintroduces in the American social ranks is the emergence of the nouveau-riches or bourgeoisie. Aristocracy gained wealth through inheritance. Inheritance was rooted in nobility and family name. On the other hand, America rises as a nation built on self-interested industry. Americans earn wealth and can establish their own business with all its rights and responsibilities. The imperial aristocracy was oppressive and retained an exclusive elitism. However, under a meritocratic economy, one’s status is measured by equal opportunity and enterprise.

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