This book was conceived during a long walk on a sunny North Carolina beach with Bruce Caldwell and Uskali Mäki in the late summer of 1993. It had a very long and – from the author's point of view – often a rather difficult gestation period. While the basic idea seemed (and still seems) quite straightforward – write an interpretative survey of recent work in economic methodology and the various developments within contemporary science theory that are relevant to it – at various points the execution of the task felt overwhelming. One problem was, of course, the “moving target” nature of the subject matter; there were many times where the relevant literature was literally appearing in print at a faster rate than I could read it, much less synthesize, or write about it. Another difficulty stemmed from the fact that my own views about the composition of the “relevant” science theory kept changing and, in particular, expanding during the evolution of the project. Finally, of course, there is always the issue of that nebulous adjective “interpretative,” and how it should be, well, interpreted. Although the finished product is undoubtedly a compromise on these and other issues, it is a well-deliberated compromise; I have tried to present a vast amount of literature in a way that is informative, balanced, and fair.
A complete list of all the individuals that I have talked to about these matters would include the majority of the people that I have come into professional contact with during the last twenty years.