Uljana Feest (Hanover): “Replication, Robustness Analysis, and Conceptual Development in Psychology”
2 December, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
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Abstract: Within the recent literature about replication, there has been some discussion about the distinction between direct and conceptual replication, where the latter is loosely assumed to have something to do with testing the same hypothesis, or detecting the same phenomenon, by different means (e.g., Schmidt 2009). In turn, this idea is reminiscent of that of robustness (see Wimsatt, 1982, for the classic formulation). In this paper, my focus is not on whether conceptual replications technically deserve to be called “replications” at all (Machery 2020) but rather on whether the notion of conceptual replication, understood as a form of robustness-reasoning, can shed light on research practices in psychology, in particular as they pertain to concepts and concept formation. I will argue that this depends on what we mean by “robustness reasoning.” While large chunks of the literature about both, robustness and replication, have focused on the question of how existing concepts of hypothesis can be confirmed by means of multiple determinations, experimental research in psychology is often better described as exploring the relevant subject matter. Correspondingly, our focus should be less on conceptual replication and more on conceptual development. I will draw on methodological writings in the history of experimental psychology (Garner et al. 1956) as well as recent work on robustness analysis (Schupbach 2018) and experimental control (Guttinger 2019; Schickore 2019) to lay out a normative framework for conceptual development in experimental psychology.
Garner, W., Hake, H, & C. Eriksen (1956): Operationism and the Concept of Perception. The Psychological Review, 63, 3, 149-159
Guttinger, Stephan (2019), A New Account of Replication in the Experimental Life Sciences. Philosophy of Science, 86, 453–471
Machery, Edouard (2020), What Is a Replication? Philosophy of Science, 87, 545–567
Schickore, Jutta (2019), The Structure and Function of Experimental Control in the Life Sciences. Philosophy of Science, 86 (April 2019) pp. 203–218.
Schmidt, Stefan (2009), Shall We Really Do It Again? The Powerful Concept of Replication Is Neglected in the Social Sciences. Review of General Psychology 13, No. 2, 90–100
Schupbach, Jonah (2018), Robustness Analysis as Explanatory Reasoning. Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 69, 275–300
Wimsatt, W. (2012/1981), Robustness, Reliability, and Overdetermination. In R. Brewer & B. Collins (eds.), Scientific Inquiry and the Social Sciences. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 123-162.
Uljana Feest is professor of philosophy at the Leibniz University of Hannover.