The Problem of Epistemic Cost: Why Do Economists Not Change Their Minds (About the “Coase Theorem”)?


  • This article was funded by the Council of Higher Education in Turkey and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Earlier versions of the article were presented at the Annual Workshop of the Turkish Initiative for Economic Thought (Istanbul, 2009), Annual Conference of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought (Amsterdam, 2010), and Annual Conference of the History of Economic Society (Syracuse, 2010). The author was one of the Young Scholar Awardees both in Amsterdam and Syracuse. The author would like to thank the participants of these conferences, editor of this journal, and two anonymous referees for their useful remarks. Selma Telalagic helped the author edit the article. The remaining errors are the author's.


Errors in the history of economic analysis often remain uncorrected for long periods due to positive epistemic costs (PEC) involved in allocating time to going back over what older generations wrote. In order to demonstrate this in a case study, economists' practice of the “Coase Theorem” is reconsidered from a PEC point of view.