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

Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1031-1043 (2017)
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The reward system of science is the priority rule. The first scientist making a new discovery is rewarded with prestige, while second runners get little or nothing. Michael Strevens, following Philip Kitcher, defends this reward system, arguing that it incentivizes an efficient division of cognitive labor. I argue that this assessment depends on strong implicit assumptions about the replicability of findings. I question these assumptions on the basis of metascientific evidence and argue that the priority rule systematically discourages replication. My analysis leads us to qualify Kitcher and Strevens’s contention that a priority-based reward system is normatively desirable for science.
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