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Philosophy - Sweden

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Modelling the Cognitive Ecological Foundations of Disciplinary Organization of Science

Recent decades have seen increasing science policy efforts to adjust or even overcome the disciplinary organization of the sciences. However, these interventions are based on substantially different and often directly contradictory accounts of what drives and maintains this disciplinary organization, and why it should be overcome. Specifically, the disagreements concern: first, the causes of disciplinary organization of the sciences; secondly, evaluation of this organization and its alternatives; and thirdly, the goals of interdisciplinarity-fostering policies.

In this project, we develop a bounded rationality model of disciplinary organization, which provides a theoretical basis for addressing the above disagreements, and for analyzing and comparing conflicting accounts. Drawing on philosophy of science and cognitive psychology, this project models cognitive agents – individuals and groups – as employing heuristic procedures to pursue their scientific objectives in highly uncertain environments. The success of these heuristics depends on the structure of the environments in which they are employed. But as agents learn more about these environments and their affordances, they also shape them to fit the available heuristics and maximize their success. The result will be a dynamic cognitive ecology model, in which the heuristic nature of scientific methods and the shaping of domains for the successful application of these heuristics drives the organization of scientific disciplines.

Activities / Resume


Till Grüne-Yanoff is professor of philosophy at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm.
He completed his PhD at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2004, and held research and teaching positions at LSE, Helsinki University and KTH. He has been a fellow at the Helsinki Institute of Advances Studies and a visitor at Columbia University, the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, and the Santa Fe Institute. His research focuses on the philosophy of science, the philosophy of economics and on decision theory. In particular, he investigates the practice of modelling in science and engineering, develops formal models of preference consistency and preference change and discusses the evaluation of evidence in policy decision making. Till is editor of the journal Economics & Philosophy. He currently directs two externally funded research projects, one on Modal Modelling and another one investigating the mechanisms underlying Behavioral Policies for Sustainable Energy Consumption.


  • Grüne-Yanoff, T. (2020) Justifying Method Choice: A Heuristic-Instrumentalist Account of Scientific Methodology. Accepted for publication, Synthese, 15.11.2020.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, T. and P. Verreault-Julien (2020) How-Possibly Explanations in Economics: Anything Goes? Accepted for publication, Journal of Economic Methodology, 11.9.2020
  • Grüne-Yanoff, T. (2018a). Choosing the right model for policy decision-making: the case of smallpox epidemiology. Synthese, 1-22. ISN 10.1007/s11229-018-1827-3
  • Grüne-Yanoff, T. and C. Marchionni (2018) Modeling model selection in model pluralism. Journal of Economic Methodology 25.3: 265-275.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till, Caterina Marchionni & Markus Feufel (2018) Toward A Framework For Selecting Behavioural Policies: How To Choose Between Boosts And Nudges. Economics and Philosophy 34(2): 243-266.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, T. (2018b). Boosts vs. Nudges from a Welfarist Perspective. Revue d'économie politique, 128(2), 209-224.
  • Hertwig, R., & Grüne-Yanoff, T. (2017a). Nudging and boosting: Steering or empowering good decisions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(6), 973-986.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2016a) Interdisciplinary Success Without Integration. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 6(3): 343-360.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, T., & Hertwig, R. (2016) Nudge Versus Boost: How Coherent are Policy and Theory? Minds and Machines 26: 149-83.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, T. (2015a) Why Behavioural Policy Needs Mechanistic Evidence. Economics and Philosophy, 32 (3): 463-483.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, T. (2015b) Models of Temporal Discounting 1937-2000: An Interdisciplinary Exchange Between Economics and Psychology. Science in Context 28(4): 675-713.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2014a) Teaching Philosophy of Science to Scientists: Why, What and How. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4(1): 115-134
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2013c) Preference Change and Conservatism, Synthese 190(14): 2623-2641
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2013d) Appraising Non-Representational Models. Philosophy of Science 80(5):850-861.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2012b) Old Wine In New Casks: Libertarian Paternalism Still Violates Liberal Principles, Social Choice and Welfare, 38(4): 635-645.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2011a) Models as Products of Interdisciplinary Exchange: Evidence from Evolutionary Game Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 42: 386-397.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2011d) Isolation is Not Characteristic of Models, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 25(2), 1-19.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2011e) Evolutionary Game Theory, Interpersonal Comparisons and Natural Selection: A Dilemma. Philosophy and Biology 26 (5): 637-654.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2009a) The Explanatory Potential of Artificial Societies, Synthese 169:539-555.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2009c) Learning from Minimal Economic Models, Erkenntnis 70(1): 81-99.
  • Grüne-Yanoff, Till (2007a) Bounded Rationality, Philosophy Compass, Basil Blackwell, Vol. 2 (3): 534-563.