PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Novelty vs Replicability: Virtues and Vices in the Reward System of Science

The reward system of science is the priority rule (Merton 1957). The first sci- entist making a novel discovery is rewarded with prestige while second runners get nothing. Using rational choice models, Kitcher (1990) and Strevens (2003, 2011) defend the priority rule arguing that it incentivizes an efficient division of cognitive labor. I argue that their assessment overlooks the fact that the priority rule discourages replication, an important concern in practice, as shown by re- cent replicability controversies. My analysis reveals that the priority rule is more vicious than virtuous, and leads us to reject Kitcher and Strevens’ contention that a priority-based reward system is normatively desirable for science.

Author Information:

Felipe Romero    
Tilburg University


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