About this topic
Summary The topics dealt with under this category relate to the general nature of change in the sciences.  Most work in this area has addressed the topic of theory change, which was brought to the forefront of philosophical attention by the "historical turn", associated with such writers as Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos and Larry Laudan.  A variety of philosophical problems arise in this area, including the question of whether science progresses toward truth, the rationality of choice between theories, the structure of theories, and the possibility of comparing alternative theories.
Key works Current thinking about scientific change may be traced back to  Kuhn 1962, or later editions, e.g. Kuhn 1996.  A valuable collection of essays on the topic is Lakatos & Musgrave 1970.  See, in particular, Lakatos 1970, for Lakatos's proposal of a methodology of scientific research programs.  Feyerabend 1974 is an influential discussion of the topic, including its implications for methodology.  Laudan 1977 is an important critical discussion of the works of Kuhn and Lakatos, which introduces Laudan's own positive account.  Kitcher 1993 continues the discussion, while introducing important proposals with respect to a realist account of scientific change.
Introductions Chalmers 1982 is an excellent introductory textbook which provides good general coverage of the issues relating to scientific change. See Nickles 2010 for an overview of topics relating to scientific revolutions.  Devitt 1979 is an incisive discussion of the claim that alternative theories are incommensurable.  See Bird 2007 for one proposal about the nature of scientific progress, and Sankey 1995 for some aspects of the problem of the rationality of the choice between theories.
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  1. Gunnar Andersson (1984). Rationality in Science and Politics.
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  2. H. B. (1971). Studies in Philosophy and in the History of Science. Review of Metaphysics 24 (4):765-766.
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  3. Ingemar Bohlin (2001). Biographies of Scientific Objects. [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Science 34 (3):341-373.
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  4. Mario Casanueva Y. Diego Méndez (2008). Teoría y experimento en Genética Mendeliana: una exposición en imágenes. Theoria 23 (3):285-306.
    En este artículo tratamos sobre los aspectos empíricos y conceptuales en la Genética Mendeliana y analizamos los vínculos entre ellos. Primero discutimos las ventajas de una representación gráfica de las teorías empíricas; luego pormenorizamos la estructura conceptual de la genécica; en seguida, esquematizamos su protocolo experimental, a continuación destacamos los engarces entre ambas representaciones y, por último, proporcionamos una caracterización holista de la práctica genética, donde el representar y el intervenir se encucntran entremezclados.In this article we deal with the conceptual (...)
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  5. R. Clarke (1960). HANSON, N. R. -Patterns of Discovery: An Inquiry Into the Conceptual Foundations of Science. [REVIEW] Mind 69:267.
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  6. A. C. Crombie (1963). Scientific Change; Historical Studies in the Intellectual, Social, and Technical Conditions for Scientific Discovery and Technical Invention, From Antiquity to the Present. Basic Books.
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  7. A. C. Crombie & International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science (1963). Scientific Change Uncorrected Proof Copy. Heineman.
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  8. Gene Albert D'amour (1971). Political Theory as a Science or Ethical Theory as the Hard Core of a Scientific Research Program. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
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  9. Norwood Russell Hanson (1958). Patterns of Discovery an Inquiry Into the Conceptual Foundations of Science. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
    Philosophers of science have given considerable attention to the logic of completed scientific systems. In this 1958 book, Professor Hanson turns to an equally important but comparatively neglected subject, the philosophical aspects of research and discovery. He shows that there is a logical pattern in finding theories as much as in using established theories to make deductions and predictions, and he sets out the features of this pattern with the help of striking examples in the history of science.
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  10. H. F. Kearney (1964). Scientific Change. Philosophical Studies 13:243-245.
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  11. H. F. Kearney (1964). Scientific Change. Philosophical Studies 13:243-245.
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  12. S. A. Lantsov (1991). Sotsial Nye Revoliutsii I Obshchestvennyi Progress Teoriia, Istoriia, Sovremennost. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  13. A. R. Louch (1965). Scientific Discovery and Legal Change. The Monist 49 (3):485-503.
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  14. Witold Mackiewicz (2012). Czesław Dejnarowicz, Literatura Naukowa — Uczeni — Wydawcy (Scientific Literature — Scientists — Publishers). Dialectics and Humanism 8 (2):164-166.
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  15. Witold Mackiewicz (1981). Czesław Dejnarowicz, Literatura Naukowa — Uczeni — Wydawcy (Scientific Literature — Scientists — Publishers). Dialectics and Humanism 8 (2):164-166.
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  16. J. E. McGuire (1992). Scientific Change: Perspectives and Proposals. In Merrilee H. Salmon (ed.), Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Hackett Pub. 132--178.
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  17. J. Moscoso (2001). Biographies of Scientific Objects. Daimon: Revista de Filosofia 24:151.
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  18. Henry Moss (1983). Scientists and Sans Culottes. The Spread of Scientific Literacy in the Revolutionary Year II. Fundamenta Scientia 4 (2).
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  19. Vincent C. Müller (1999). Realismus und Referenz: Arten von Arten [Realism and Reference: Kinds of Kinds]. Dissertation, Universität Hamburg
    Die gegenwärtig unter dem Titel ›Realismus‹ geführten Debatten in der Philosophie befinden sich nach allgemeiner Ansicht in einem Zustand größter Verwirrung, so daß es nützlich erscheint, ein wenig Ordnung in die theoretischen Optionen zu bringen bevor man für die eine oder andere Auffassung Partei ergreift. In der vorliegenden Arbeit wird dafür argumentiert, daß sich ein systematisch zusammenhängendes Zentrum dieser Debatten mit Hilfe des Begriffes der Referenz ordnen läßt. Nach der Analyse einiger klassischer Positionen soll ein Rahmen erstellt werden, innerhalb dessen (...)
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  20. David Papineau (1975). LESSNOFF, MICHAEL "The Structure of Social Science: A Philosophical Introduction". [REVIEW] Philosophy 50:364.
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  21. E. A. R. (1966). Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, II. Review of Metaphysics 19 (4):820-821.
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  22. Jamil Ragep & Sally Ragep (eds.) (1996). Tradition, Transmission, Transformation: Proceedings of Two Conferences on Pre-Modern Science Held at the University of Oklahoma. Brill.
    In this volume of conference papers originally presented at the University of Oklahoma, a distinguished group of scholars examines episodes in the transmission of premodern science and provides new insights into its cultural, philosophical and historical significance.
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  23. Wojciech Sady (2011). Odkrywanie elektronu a pytanie o naturę badań naukowych. Filozofia Nauki 3.
    The historical development of scientific knowledge is examined in the context of research, and not, as tradition tells, in the context of justification. It is a story about experimental researches and theoretical investigations conducted in the years 1820-1902, which finally led to the discovery of electron, accompanied by methodological comments. Main results of the analysis are that knowledge is scientific if it has a systemic character, and experimental studies are scientific if they are systematic. „Systemic” means that studied objects or (...)
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  24. Gregor Schiemann (2008). Experimental Knowledge and the Theory of Producing It: Hermann von Helmholtz. In U. Feest & G. Hon (eds.), Generating Experimental Knowledge. Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
    Helmholtz's public reflection about the nature of the experiment and its role in the sciences is a historically important description, which also helps to analyze his own works. It is a part of his conception of science and nature, which can be seen as an ideal type of science and its goals. But its historical reach seems to be limited in an important respect. Helmholtz's understanding of experiments is based on the idea that their planning, realization and evaluation lies in (...)
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  25. Gregor Schiemann (1997). Phänomenologie versus Naturwissenschaft - Zum Verhältnis zweier Erkenntnisarten. In Gregor Schiemann & Gernot Böhme (eds.), Phänomenologie der Natur. Suhrkamp
    Im letzten Viertel dieses Jahrhunderts mehren sich die Anzeichen für einen wissenschaftstheoretischen Wandlungsprozeß von weitreichender Bedeutung. Zu seinen hervorstechenden Merkmalen gehört die Kritik an den vormals dominierenden Abgrenzungen der naturwissenschaftlichen Erkenntnis gegenüber anderen Erkenntnisformen. Beanstandet wird hauptsächlich die traditionell unzureichende Berücksichtigung der praktischen Dimensionen der Forschung und die bisher einseitige Konzentration auf mathematisch-physikalische Disziplinen. Daß die Naturwissenschaften ihre Fähigkeiten zur Naturbeherrschung und -veränderung bis in unsere Gegenwart hinein unablässig erweitert haben, geht vermutlich nur partiell auf die erfolgreiche Anwendung theoretischer Axiomensysteme (...)
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  26. Gregor Schiemann (1994). Die Hypothetisierung des Mechanismus Bei Hermann von Helmholtz. Ein Beitrag Zum Wandel der Wissenschafts- Und Naturauffassung Im 19. Jahrhundert. In Lorenz Krüger (ed.), Universalgenie Helmholtz. Rückblick nach 100 Jahren. Akademie-Verlag
    Die Entwicklung von HeImholtz' Mechanismus ist durch einen Wandel im Geltungsanspruch gekennzeichnet und läßt sich in einer noch sehr groben Übersicht in zwei Perioden einteilen. Auf die erste Periode bis etwa zum Ende der 60er Jahre werde ich im ersten Teil meines Beitrages eingehen. Hier rekonstruiere ich umrißhaft die empiristische Begründung, die Helmholtz für den Wahrheitsanspruch seiner Naturauffassung gegeben hat. Im zweiten Teil werde ich dann die wichtigsten Merkmale der im Verlauf der 70er Jahre hervortretenden Hypothetisierungstendenz charakterisieren. Abschliessend will ich (...)
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  27. Keith Vernon (1989). Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Science 22 (4):461-462.
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  28. F. W. Westaway (1921). Scientific Method: Its Philosophy and Practice. Journal of Philosophy 18 (17):472-475.
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  29. J. M. Ziman (1987). Knowing Everything About Nothing Specialization and Change in Scientific Careers. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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Incommensurability in Science
  1. Peter Achinstein (1964). On the Meaning of Scientific Terms. Journal of Philosophy 61 (17):497-509.
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  2. Joseph Agassi (2003). Comparability and Incommensurability. Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):93 – 94.
  3. Evandro Agazzi (1985). Commensurability, Incommensurability, and Cumulativity in Scientific Knowledge. Erkenntnis 22 (1-3):51-77.
    Until the middle of the present century it was a commonly accepted opinion that theory change in science was the expression of cumulative progress consisting in the acquisition of new truths and the elimination of old errors. Logical empiricists developed this idea through a deductive model, saying that a theory T superseding a theory T must be able logically to explain whatever T explained and something more as well. Popper too shared this model, but stressed that T explains the old (...)
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  4. Juan Carlos Aguirre García (2008). Reply To: Is Incommensurability Incomparability? Discusiones Filosóficas 9 (13):113 - 125.
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  5. Amani Albedah (2006). A Gadamerian Critique of Kuhn's Linguistic Turn: Incommensurability Revisited. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (3):323 – 345.
    In this article, I discuss Gadamer's hermeneutic account of understanding as an alternative to Kuhn's incommensurability thesis. After a brief account of Kuhn's aesthetic account and arguments against it, I argue that the linguistic account faces a paradox that results from Kuhn's objectivist account of understanding, and his lack of historical reflexivity. The statement 'Languages are incommensurable' is not a unique view of language, and is thus subject to contest by incommensurable readings. Resolving the paradox requires an account of incommensurability (...)
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  6. Maria Alegre (2001). On the Distinction Between Incommensurability and Inconsistency. Logica Trianguli 5:3-18.
    The aim of this paper is to analyse the differences between the notions of incommensurability and inconsistency. The concept of incommensurability taken into account is restricted to the one of non-trivial incommensurability, which, in turn, will be associated with local untranslatability. Logical, ontological, and epistemological differences between the two former notions will be depicted. It will be shown that incommensurability consists of a sort of non-contradictory opposition relation.
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  7. Douglas Allchin (1994). The Super Bowl and the Ox-Phos Controversy: "Winner-Take-All" Competition in Philosophy of Science. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:22 - 33.
    Several diagrams and tables from review articles during the Ox-Phos Controversy serve as an occasion to assess the nature of competition in models of theory choice in science. Many models follow "Super-Bowl" principles of polar, either-or, winner-take-all competition. A significant alternative highlighted by this episode, however, is the differentiation of domains. Incommensurability and the partial divergence of overlapping domains serve both as signals and context for shifting frameworks of competition. Appropriate strategies may thus help researchers diagnose the status of competition (...)
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  8. Valer Ambrus (1999). Is Putnam's Causal Theory of Meaning Compatible with Internal Realism? Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 30 (1):1-16.
    Putnam originally developed his causal theory of meaning in order to support scientific realism and reject the notion of incommensurability. Later he gave up this position and adopted instead what he called ‘internal realism’, but apparently without changing his mind on topics related to his former philosophy of language. The question must arise whether internal realism, which actually is a species of antirealism, is compatible with the causal theory of meaning. In giving an answer I begin with an analysis of (...)
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  9. H. Andersen, P. Barker & X. Chen (1998). Kuhn's Theory of Scientific Revolutions and Cognitive Psychology. Philosophical Psychology 11 (1):5-28.
    In a previous article we have shown that Kuhn's theory of concepts is independently supported by recent research in cognitive psychology. In this paper we propose a cognitive re?reading of Kuhn's cyclical model of scientific revolutions: all of the important features of the model may now be seen as consequences of a more fundamental account of the nature of concepts and their dynamics. We begin by examining incommensurability, the central theme of Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions, according to two different (...)
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  10. Hanne Andersen (2010). Edwin H.-C. Hung Beyond Kuhn. Scientific Explanation, Theory Structure, Incommensurability and Physical Necessity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):237-239.
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  11. Hanne Andersen (2006). The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Cambridge University Press.
    Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions became the most widely read book about science in the twentieth century. His terms 'paradigm' and 'scientific revolution' entered everyday speech, but they remain controversial. In the second half of the twentieth century, the new field of cognitive science combined empirical psychology, computer science, and neuroscience. In this book, the recent theories of concepts developed by cognitive scientists are used to evaluate and extend Kuhn's most influential ideas. Based on case studies of the Copernican (...)
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  12. Hanne Andersen (2004). Incommensurability and Dynamic Conceptual Structures. Philosophia Scientiae 8 (1):153-168.
    One important problem concerning incommensurability is to explain how theories that are incommensurable can nevertheless compete. In this paper I shall briefly review Kuhn’s account of the difference between revolutionary and non-revolutionary conceptual developments. I shall argue that his taxonomic approach and the no-overlap principle it entails does not suffice to distinguish between revolutionary and non-revolutionary developments. I shall show that his approach builds mainly on analyses of feature correlations, and that it is necessary to include explanations of these feature (...)
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  13. Hanne Andersen (2000). Learning by Ostension: Thomas Kuhn on Science Education. Science and Education 9 (1-2):91-106.
    Significant claims about science education form an integral part of Thomas Kuhn's philosophy. Since the late 1950s, when Kuhn started wrestling with the ideas of ‘normal research’ and ‘convergent thought’, the nature of science education has played an important role in his argument. Hence, the nature of science education is an essential aspect of the phase-model of scientific development developed in his famous The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, just as his later work on categories and conceptual structures takes its starting (...)
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  14. Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker & Xiang Chen (1996). Kuhn's Mature Philosophy of Science and Cognitive Psychology. Philosophical Psychology 9 (3):347 – 363.
    Drawing on the results of modem psychology and cognitive science we suggest that the traditional theory of concepts is no longer tenable, and that the alternative account proposed by Kuhn may now be seen to have independent empirical support quite apart from its success as part of an account of scientific change. We suggest that these mechanisms can also be understood as special cases of general cognitive structures revealed by cognitive science. Against this background, incommensurability is not an insurmountable obstacle (...)
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  15. G. Andersson, Die Wissenschaft Als Objektive Erkenntnis & In E. Agazzi (2001). Incommensurability Bibliography. In Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Howard Sankey (eds.), Incommensurability and Related Matters. Kluwer 303.
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  16. Will Angelette (2002). Rationality, Emotion, and Belief Revision: Waller's Move Beyond CBT & REBT. International Journal of Philosophical Practice 1 (3).
    Sarah Waller proposes that cognitive therapists and philosophical counselors ought to consider the feelings of the client of paramount importance in belief system change rather than the rationality of the belief system. I offer an alternative strategy of counseling that reinstates the place of rational belief revision while still respecting the importance of emotions. Waller claims that, because of the problem of under-determination, the counseling goal of rational belief revision can be trumped by the goal of improved client affect. I (...)
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  17. Theodore Arabatzis (2001). Can a Historian of Science Be a Scientific Realist? Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S531-.
    In this paper I address some of the problems that the historical development of science poses for a realist and discuss whether a realist construal of scientific activity is conducive to historiographical practice. First, I discuss, by means of historical examples, Ian Hacking's defense of entity realism. Second, I try to show, drawing on Kuhn's recent work on incommensurability, that the realism problem is relevant to historiography and that a realist position entails a particular historiographical strategy, which faces problems. Finally, (...)
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  18. George Argyrous (1992). Kuhn's Paradigms and Neoclassical Economics. Economics and Philosophy 8 (2):231-248.
    Thirty years after its publication, Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is still the source of much discussion in economics. Its rel-ativistic tone has often been used to fuel the claims of dissident traditions against the prevailing orthodoxy, or at least to plead the case for intellectual pluralism. Through his arguments regarding the incommensurability of different theoretical approaches to a particular subject, Kuhn's work has allowed many to argue that dissident traditions are just as legitimate as orthodoxy for analyzing (...)
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  19. S. K. Arun Murthi & Sundar Sarukkai (2009). Multisemiosis and Incommensurability. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):297-311.
    Central to Kuhn's notion of incommensurability are the ideas of meaning variance and lexicon, and the impossibility of translation of terms across different theories. Such a notion of incommensurability is based on a particular understanding of what a scientific language is. In this paper we first attempt to understand this notion of scientific language in the context of incommensurability. We consider the consequences of the essential multisemiotic character of scientific theories and show how this leads to even a single theory (...)
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  20. Warren Oliver Asher (1985). Reference and Theory Change: The Impact of the Theory of Reference on the Incommensurability Problem. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
    The thesis concerns the claim that competing scientific theories are, in important cases, "incommensurable". It has been argued that since theoretical terms derive their meaning from the theory in which they occur, the transition from one theory to another involves significant changes in the meanings of terms. The absence of common meanings has been taken to preclude the possibility of logical and evidential comparisons between competing theories. Furthermore, since such theories are not then alternative accounts of the same domain, standard (...)
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  21. Babette Babich (2003). Paradigms and Thought Styles: Incommensurability and its Cold War Discontents From Kuhn's Harvard to Fleck's Unsung Lvov. Social Epistemology 17:97-107.
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