The question of whether science may usefully be viewed as a market process has recently been addressed by Mäki (1999), who concludes that “either free-market economics is self-defeating, or else there must be two different concepts of free market, one for the ordinary economy, the other for science.” Here I argue that such pessimism is unwarranted.
Mäki proposes (see also Wible 1998) that the conduct of economic research itself be taken, self-reflexively, as a test case for any suggested economics of science. While agreeing that we may expect economics to apply to the conduct of economic research itself, I demonstrate that there is a lack of cogency, both in Mäki's argument for his proposal and in his attempt to implement a reflexivity test.
Mäki asks what would be exchanged in the scientific “market for ideas” (see also Sent 1997). The answer is that recognition is exchanged for the opportunity to use another's research results. The identification of an organized and pervasive system of exchange establishes a firm basis for analyzing science as a market process.