Philosophy of Science at the Intersection of the Priority Rule, Replicability and Scientific Novelty

Dijana Magđinski Tolić (doctoral project, ongoing)

The main aim of my research is to explore epistemological and ethical issues arising from the debates about the functional role of the priority rule in producing scientific novelty and its apparent detrimental impact on scientific integrity, including replication studies.
In recent years, there has been increasing concern about the priority rule driven competition among scientists and about the rise of a “publish or perish” culture, which seem to have detrimental effects on creativity, scientific objectivity and integrity. This is especially evident in the so-called replicability crisis. However, the priority rule also has valuable functions, as it encourages the production of novelty and ensures efficient allocation of resources among competing research projects. These issues prompted debates about the interaction between individual scientist’s egoistic interests and collective good. I will tackle these issues by using insights from the research of cultural and social evolution since science is undoubtedly a product of cumulative cultural evolution and scientists are undoubtedly social beings organized into social institutions and governed by social norms within their scientific environment. I will also consider the general structure of contemporary scientific practices since contemporary science is characterized by necessity of collaboration and high rate of team production, which seem to marginalize competitive drive.