The Organization of Inquiry, the third volume in Liberty Fund’s The Selected Works of Gordon Tullock, was originally published by Duke University Press in 1966. This is a treatise by one of the most stalwart practitioners of the scientific method in political economy--Gordon Tullock. Charles K. Rowley, Duncan Black Professor of Economics at George Mason University, writes in his introduction to this book, “From a purely technical perspective, this book stands out as his (Tullock's) best-written single authored work. The book sets out his own views on scientific method--views that he would faithfully reflect in all of his subsequent scholarship.”
In this book, Tullock focuses attention on the organization of science, raising important questions about scientific inquiry and specifically about the problems of science as a social system. Tullock poses such questions as: how do scientists engage in apparently cooperative contributions in the absence of hierarchic organization and why are scientific contributions worthy, for the most part, of the public’s trust? Throughout The Organization of Inquiry, he sets out to answer these questions and many more through a pioneering exploration of the interrelationship between economics and the philosophy of science, much of which defied then conventional wisdom.
Anyone interested in any scientific endeavor will find the combination of Tullock’s powerful logic, his sharp forensic skills, and his barbed wit completely elucidating and helpful to their pursuits.
"The purpose of this book is to answer, or attempt to answer, certain questions about science. I should like to be able to say that these questions have deeply interested scientists and that my solutions will be widely welcomed as settling important problems. Unfortunately I cannot do so. Leaving aside the problem of the correctness of my answers, the fact remains that I have been unable to find any indications that scientists have asked the questions to which I address myself. The unwary might take this as proof that the problems are unimportant, but scientists, fully conscious of the importance of asking new questions, will not make this mistake. Personally I think that the questions are important, and the answers, if not earthshaking, at least significant enough to justify adding one more to the fifty thousand or so books that will be published this year. In the first paragraph I can hardly expect the reader to share my faith, but I think that I can ask that he maintain that open but skeptical frame of mind which characterizes the best scientific thought."
Gordon Tullock (1922) is University Professor of Law and Economics and Distinguished Research Fellow in the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy at George Mason University. He holds a joint teaching position in the Department of Economics and the School of Law. Professor Tullock received a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1947. Tullock is one of the fathers of public choice theory.