Dr. Klodoan Coko
Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University 2015
My research focuses on the emergence and development of scientific methods. To investigate the history of scientific methods, an integration of philosophy of science with historical and empirical accounts of scientific practice is crucial. I utilized such an integrated approach in my dissertation on The Structure and Epistemic Import of Empirical Multiple Determination in Scientific Practice. There I examined the epistemic strategy of establishing the same empirical result by means of different and independent procedures. To understand the epistemic significance and structure of this strategy, I analyzed its historical emergence, development, and use in actual scientific practice. I focused on the role this strategy played in nineteenth century investigations on the cause of the phenomenon of Brownian movement and especially in Jean Perrin’s experimental work on the height distribution, mean displacement, and mean rotation of Brownian particles, in the beginning of the twentieth century. In addition, I used this analysis to develop a general conceptual framework for understanding the structure and epistemic import of arguments that rely on the application of the multiple determination strategy. My dissertation is a contribution to the history of nineteenth and early twentieth century physical chemistry and helps in understanding important features of twentieth century philosophy. It also shows that the integrated approach is fruitful also on the meta-level, as an investigation of the interaction of general philosophy of science with concrete historical and empirical accounts of scientific practice.
My current research project focuses on the history and philosophy of experimental replication. There is currently a widespread public perception that scientific activity is in the midst of a (socalled) ‘replication crisis’. Many important findings published in leading scientific journals are considered not to be as strong as originally claimed because they are found difficult or impossible to replicate. In general, it is estimated that more than half of the experimental findings published in journals in medicine, biology, economics, clinical medicine, and animal research are inflated and difficult to replicate. Although the extent and severity of this ‘replication crisis’ need to be further evaluated, it seems that this situation, more than revealing the existence of a fatal flaw at the heart of modern scientific activity, shows that our general understanding of the complexities surrounding the replication of experimental procedures and experimental findings is rather limited.
My research project aims to remedy this situation by providing a detailed understanding of the nature of experimental replication. More specifically, it addresses the following questions: What does it mean to replicate an experimental procedure? What does it mean to replicate an experimental result? What are the criteria for a successful replication? What are the reasons for replicating an experiment? What is the epistemic import of replication? To what extent does replication characterize current scientific practices? How does replication compare with other strategies that researchers use in order to confirm and validate their experimental procedures and experimental results? How have the answers to these questions changed through time and across disciplines?
The distinctive feature of my approach is that it tries to understand the nature of the various practices constituting replication by paying attention to their historical emergence and development; by paying attention to the historical context in which these practices originally emerged and to how they morphed into current practices. This approach is based on the historicist conviction that in order to understand why science uses certain practices and strategies, requires attention to how science came to consider, adopt, and develop these practices and strategies. My approach not only helps solving the philosophical disagreements regarding the epistemic role, epistemic import, and relevance of replication for actual scientific practice, but (at a meta-level) it also suggests a fruitful way of interaction between philosophy of science and historical accounts of scientific practices.
(2015) “Epistemology of a Believing Historian: Making Sense of Duhem’s Anti-atomism,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A, Vol.50, pp.71-82.
(2013) “Using Multiple Means of Determination” (with Jutta Schickore), International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol.27, No.3, pp.295-313.
(2013) “Robustness, Solidity, and Multiple Determinations” (with Jutta Schickore). Metascience, Vol.22, No. 3, (2013) pp.681-683. Review of Characterizing the Robustness of Science after the Practice Turn in the Philosophy of Science, Soler et al. eds., Boston Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, vol.292, Springer.
Link to my philpapers page: http://philpapers.cdp.uwo.ca/s/Klodian%20Coko