The replication or reproducibility crisis in psychological science has renewed attention to philosophical aspects of its methodology. I provide herein a new, functional account of the role of replication in a scientific discipline: to undercut the underdetermination of scientific hypotheses from data, typically by hypotheses that connect data with phenomena. These include hypotheses that concern sampling error, experimental control, and operationalization. How a scientific hypothesis could be underdetermined in one of these ways depends on a scientific discipline’s epistemic goals, theoretical development, material constraints, institutional context, and their interconnections. I illustrate how these apply to the case of psychological science. I then contrast this “bottom-up” account with “top-down” accounts, which assume that the role of replication in a particular science, such as psychology, must follow from a uniform role that it plays in science generally. Aside from avoiding unaddressed problems with top-down accounts, my bottom-up account also better explains the variability of importance of replication of various types across different scientific disciplines.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was partially supported by a Single Semester Leave from the University of Minnesota, and a Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.
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