Chicken Soup for the Out-of-Step Scholar's Soul


  • We thank Dan Sutter and the participants of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics workshop at George Mason University for helpful comments on a much earlier draft of this paper. Leeson was the F.A. Hayek Fellow at the London School of Economics at the time of this research and gratefully acknowledges the support of the STICERD Center at the LSE.


This paper argues that the long-standing predominance of a particular approach to science neither makes it uniquely scientific nor superior to rival approaches. To do so it examines the dominant scientific explanation of the 17th and early 18th centuries: the mechanical philosophy. The mechanical philosophy episode demonstrates the fragility of even the most entrenched scientific wisdoms and provides encouragement for out-of-step scholars everywhere.