When “Replicability” is More than Just “Reliability”: The Hubble Constant Controversy

Abstract

We argue that the epistemic functions of replication in science are best understood by their role in assessing kinds of experimental error. Direct replications serve to assess the reliability of an experiment through its precision: the presence and degree of random error. Conceptual replications serve to assess the validity of an experiment through its accuracy: the presence and degree of systematic errors. To illustrate the aptness of this view, we examine the Hubble constant controversy in astronomy, showing how astronomers have responded to the concordances and discordances in their results by carrying out the different kinds of replication that we identify, with the aim of establishing a precise, accurate value for the Hubble constant. We contrast our view with Machery’s “re-sampling” account of replicability, which maintains that replications only assess reliability.

Author Profiles

Vera Matarese
Perugia University
C. D. McCoy
Yonsei University

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