In Isis 99, page 100 Lorraine Daston writes:
Science depends crucially on its own ontologies, so very different from commonsense ontologies, painstakingly assembled from diverse shards of evidence as a mosaic is assembled from thousands of tiny stones of diverse color and shape. It is observation, grounded in trained collective, cultivated habit, that fuses these bits and pieces into a picture – often a literal picture crafted by techniques of scientific visualization.
Daston’s skilfull account of scientific ontologies and the way they are grounded in observation presupposes that it is the scientists that do the observation. In her view it is because scientists develop through learning and doing a specialist view of the world that they develop their own specialized ontologies. For the natural sciences this is undoubtedly true. For economics I find it problematic. Clearly, economists have their own specialized ontologies, but I don’t see how these economic ontologies are the direct and only product of learned and experienced observation for the simple fact that economists have delegated the observation part of their science to – indeed specialized – institutes such as the IMF, OECD, ECB, and so forth. The inextricable link between specialized scientific observation and specialized scientific ontology seems difficult to maintain for economics.