2019 Visiting Astor Lectureship on Science and Capitalism

The Global History of Capitalism Project, Oxford Centre for Global History, and the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology were pleased to host Professor Philip Mirowski (University of Notre Dame) for the week of 20-24 May 2019. Professor Mirowski participated in several events with Oxford students and researchers from a variety of disciplines, including History, Business Studies, Social Sciences, Medical Sciences, and the Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences, as well as members of the general public.

On 21 May, Prof Mirowski took part in a panel discussion on ‘The Trouble with Open Science’, hosted by the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS) with Prof Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter) and other attendees. The discussion was chaired by Dr Javier Lezaun (InSIS).

This was followed by the Astor Lecture on 22 May, with Prof Mirowski presenting on ‘The Infirmity of Open Science in Pharmaceutical Research'. Framed within the broader question of what counts as good science within an Open Science framework, he provided a provocative argument about the history and context of the current drive for open science, presenting evidence from the pharmaceuticals sector, and suggested we should rethink the enthusiasm by many governments for their promotion of open science.

Finally, on 24 May, Prof Mirowski took part in a roundtable workshop on ‘The Market and Science in Long-term Perspective’ with Prof Rob Iliffe (Oxford) and Prof Christopher McKenna (Global History of Capitalism, Oxford).

Each event prompted lively discussion and consideration of the history and global implications of the drive for open science from the perspective of multiple disciplines.

Philip Mirowski is Carl Koch Professor of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of, among others, ‘The Knowledge we have Lost in Information’ (2017), ‘More Heat than Light’ (1989), ‘Machine Dreams’ (2001), ‘ScienceMart’ (2011), and ‘Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste’ (2013). He is a recipient of the Ludwig Fleck Prize from the Society for Social Studies of Science, and was named Distinguished Scholar by the History of Economics Society. His recent research on the problems of open science has appeared in Social Studies of Science. Outside of the economics profession, he is best known for his work on the history and political philosophy of neoliberalism, and his methodological watchword that intellectual history is the story of thought collectives, not heroic individuals.