PoS Seminar 14.2.22 with Remco Heesen

At the next Perspectives on Science seminar on Monday 14.2., Remco Heesen (University of Western Australia) will give a presentation titled “How to Measure Credit ”. The seminar takes place in Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

To join the seminar, please sign up here.


There is a rapidly growing body of research on the epistemic consequences of the credit economy. This research investigates how scientists’ motivations, in particular their desire to be credited with important discoveries, affect their decisions regarding what science gets done and how it gets done, and whether this is likely to make for epistemically effective scientific communities. I briefly review this literature and highlight a commonly used assumption: that scientists are expected credit maximizers. This only makes sense if we assume credit can be quantified and measured on a so-called interval scale. Why should we think this? I propose three arguments for interval-scaled credit and expected credit maximization: one based on counting citations, one based on conjoint measurement, and one based on von Neumann-Morgenstern lotteries. I consider advantages and disadvantages of each and conclude that the latter is the most convincing.

Author bio:

Remco Heesen is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy (tenure track) at the University of Western Australia as well as a postdoctoral researcher (2019–2023) at the University of Groningen, funded by an NWO Veni grant. His research analyzes the social structure of science using a combination of philosophical analysis and formal methods. Recent work focuses on the epistemic consequences of scientists’ decisions regarding journal publications. How and why do scientists choose to share a given result rather than keeping it secret? How do scientists make the tradeoff between speed and accuracy in deciding how long to work on a project before attempting to publish it? What role does peer review play in the social structure of science, and how can this be improved?