Experimental Reproducibility and the Experimenters' Regress

In his influential book, "Changing Order", H.M. Collins puts forward the following three claims concerning experimental replication. (i) Replication is rarely practiced by experimentalists; (ii) replication cannot be used as an objective test of scientific knowledge claims, because of the occurrence of the so-called experimenters' regress; and (iii) stopping this regress at some point depends upon the enculturation in a local community of practitioners, who tacitly learn the relevant skills. In my paper I discuss and assess these claims on the basis of a more comprehensive analysis of experimentation and experimental reproducibility. The main point is that Collins' claims are not, strictly speaking, wrong, but rather too one-sided and therefore inadequate. This point also calls for a reconsideration of the radical (social constructivist) conclusions that Collins has drawn from his studies of scientific experimentation.
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Simon A. Cole (2013). Forensic Culture as Epistemic Culture: The Sociology of Forensic Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (1):36-46.

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