Performative Science

Science suffers from its focus on description and prediction. Science should not be a slave to manufacturing, its first obligation is to inform us about the universe (the way things are), and the way things are changes. It involves time. Scientific theories change. They evolve. Die.

A performative utterance is a motivated sentence, within which lie the tools and techniques of its own performance. A science of these utterances is a performative science. In its infancy it was called cryptoeconomics.

A __performative science__ is interested in more than describing how things are. We also wish to know how they could be. Not how they will be (prediction), but the full range of possibilities that may interest us.

Personal Note

For a number of years now I have found myself having to explain to people what is special about blockchain or cryptoeconomics.

I've had to develop my own language, as the mainstream blockchain communities use a language, and indeed seem to understand their own subject matter in a way which fails to capture what I have been anticipating.

To begin with I tried to speak about law, smart contracts and promises. But this was just made-up language without precedent. Liquid Law had no champions. In the last year, I've rediscovered the philosophical roots of these ideas, buried deep in the philosophy of language. Not my favourite topic in philosophy.

It seems to be doing the job. A positive response comes is apparent immediately. A type of confused respect. Sometimes it is useful to lean on eminence.

There appears to be a few interesting articles in the last few months in this area. It bodes well for trans-disciplinary research.


The scientific method is just that, a __method__. An algorithm for pursuing knowledge. As such it can be applied to many domains. To creativity for instance.

Researching this idea I've come across these researchers who appear to also have explored this path in science and economics: - Andrew Pickering - Michel Callon

There have been a number of attempts to define a formalisation of performative speech. We could consider the wok on intuitionistic type theory by the Swedish logician Per Martin-Löf as an attempt at creating a __performative logic__. His work on type theory has influenced computer science.

We can also understand cryptoeconomics as the study of a class of performative logic that we know as smart contracts. In this analysis, what is special about a well designed blockchain is that the language used is a different class of language - a performative or illocutionary language. In every-day parlance - something which we would use the word Law.

# See also