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.
  Show all references
Related categories
Subcategories:
751 found
Search inside:
(import / add options)   Sort by:
1 — 50 / 751
Incommensurability in Science
  1. Joseph Agassi (2003). Comparability and Incommensurability. Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):93 – 94.
  2. 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 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  3. Juan Carlos Aguirre García (2008). Reply To: Is Incommensurability Incomparability? Discusiones Filosóficas 9 (13):113 - 125.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  4. 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 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  5. 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 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  6. Valer Ambrus (1999). Is Putnam's Causal Theory of Meaning Compatible with Internal Realism? Journal for General Philosophy of Science 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 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  7. 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 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  8. 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.
    (No abstract is available for this citation).
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  9. 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 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  10. Hanne Andersen (2004). Incommensurability and Dynamic Conceptual Structures. Philosophia Scientiae 8 (1):153-168.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  11. 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 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  12. 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.
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  13. 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, (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  14. 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 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  15. 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.
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  16. Babette E. Babich (2003). From Fleck's Denkstil to Kuhn's Paradigm: Conceptual Schemes and Incommensurability. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (1):75 – 92.
    This article argues that the limited influence of Ludwik Fleck's ideas on philosophy of science is due not only to their indirect dissemination by way of Thomas Kuhn, but also to an incommensurability between the standard conceptual framework of history and philosophy of science and Fleck's own more integratedly historico-social and praxis-oriented approach to understanding the evolution of scientific discovery. What Kuhn named "paradigm" offers a periphrastic rendering or oblique translation of Fleck's Denkstil/Denkkollektiv , a derivation that may also account (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  17. Babette E. Babich (2003). Kuhn's Paradigm as a Parable for the Cold War: Incommensurability and its Discontents From Fuller's Tale of Harvard to Fleck's Unsung Lvov. Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):99 – 109.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  18. Franz Balsiger & Alex Burri (1990). Sind Die Klassische Mechanik Und Die Spezielle Relativitätstheorie Kommensurabel? Journal for General Philosophy of Science 21 (1):157 - 162.
    Are Classical Mechanics and the Special Theory of Relativity Commensurable? In its first part, this paper shows why a recently made attempt to reduce the special theory of relativity to Newtonian kinematics is bound to fail. In the second part, we propose a differentiated notion of incommensurability which enables us to amend the contention that the special theory of relatively and Newtonian kinematics are "incommensurable".
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  19. Franz Balsiger & Alex Burri (1990). Sind Die Klassische Mechanik Und Die Spezielle Relativitätstheorie Kommensurabel? Journal for General Philosophy of Science 21 (1):157-162.
    In its first part, this paper shows why a recently made attempt to reduce the special theory of relativity to Newtonian kinematics is bound to fail. In the second part, we propose a differentiated notion of incommensurability which enables us to amend the contention that the special theory of relatively and Newtonian kinematics are “incommensurable”.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  20. W. Balzer (1989). On Incommensurability in Imre Lakatos and Theories of Scientific Change. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 111:287-304.
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  21. W. Balzer (1985). Incommensurability, Reduction, and Translation. Erkenntnis 23 (3):255 - 267.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  22. W. Balzer (1985). What is Incommensurability. Kant-Studien 76 (2):196-213.
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  23. Nimrod Bar-Am (2003). The Dusk of Incommensurability. Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):111 – 114.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  24. Peter Barker (2001). Incommensurability and Conceptual Change During the Copernican Revolution. In. In Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Howard Sankey (eds.), Incommensurability and Related Matters. Kluwer. 241--273.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  25. Peter Barker (2001). Kuhn, Incommensurability, and Cognitive Science. Perspectives on Science 9 (4):433-462.
    : This paper continues my application of theories of concepts developed in cognitive psychology to clarify issues in Kuhn's mature account of scientific change. I argue that incommensurability is typically neither global nor total, and that the corresponding form of scientific change occurs incrementally. Incommensurability can now be seen as a local phenomenon restricted to particular points in a conceptual framework represented by a set of nodes. The unaffected parts in the framework constitute the basis for continued communication between the (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  26. Pierluigi Barrotta (1998). Contemporary Philosophy of Science in Italy: An Overview. [REVIEW] Journal for General Philosophy of Science 29 (2):327-345.
    The paper analyses the development of some themes in the contemporary philosophy of science in Italy. Section 1 reviews the dabate on the legacy of neopositivism. The spread of the philosophy of Popper is outlined in Section 2, with particular regard to the problem of the vindication of induction. Section 3 deals with the debate on the incommensurability thesis, while Section 4 examines its consequences on the possible relationships between historical and epistemological studies of science. The last section is devoted (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  27. Andreas Bartels (2001). Incommensurability and its Roots in Nature. Philosophia Naturalis 38 (1):25-36.
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  28. Andreas Bartels (1995). Chains of Meaning: A Model for Concept Formation in Contemporary Physics Theories. Synthese 105 (3):347 - 379.
    The rationality of scientific concept formation in theory transitions, challenged by the thesis of semantic incommensurability, can be restored by theChains of Meaning approach to concept formation. According to this approach, concepts of different, succeeding theories may be identified with respect to referential meaning, in spite of grave diversity of the mathematical structures characterizing them in their respective theories. The criterion of referential identity for concepts is that they meet a relation ofsemantic embedding, i.e. that the embedding concept can be (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  29. D. Batens (1983). The Relevance of Theory-Ladennes and Incommensurability, and a Survey to the Contributions to This Issue. Philosophica 31:3-6.
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  30. Diderik Batens (1983). Incommensurability is Not a Threat to the Rationality of Science or to the Anti-Dogmatic Tradition. Philosophica 32.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  31. Diderik Batens (1983). The Relevance of Theory-Ladenness and Incommensurability. Philosophica 31.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  32. Carol Bayley (1995). Our World Views (May Be) Incommensurable: Now What? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 20 (3):271-284.
    In focusing their view on Kuhn, Robert Veatch and William Stempsey ignore alternative sources of insight from other voices that could help move us beyond incommensurability. Richard Rorty and Helen Longino, for example, offer another view of science and objectivity with constructive insight for the practice of science and medicine. Keywords: positivism, relativism, scientific knowledge, incommensurability, Kuhn, Rorty, Longino CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  33. Jelena Berberović (1997). Rationality, Language, Incommensurability. Theoria 40 (2):65-78.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  34. Mario Biagioli (1990). The Anthropology of Incommensurability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 21 (2):183-209.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  35. Soazig Le Bihan (2004). Saving Incommensurability: Semantic Theory of Meaning or Semantic Theory of Science? Philosophia Scientiae 8:97-105.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  36. A. Bird (2012). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and its Significance: An Essay Review of the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (4):859-883.
    Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited books of the twentieth century. Its iconic and controversial nature has obscured its message. What did Kuhn really intend with Structure and what is its real significance? -/- 1 Introduction -/- 2 The Central Ideas of Structure -/- 3 The Philosophical Targets of Structure -/- 4 Interpreting and Misinterpreting Structure -/- 4.1 Naturalism -/- 4.2 World-change -/- 4.3 Incommensurability -/- 4.4 Progress and the nature of revolutionary change -/- 4.5 (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  37. Alexander Bird, Kuhn and Philosophy of Science in the Twentieth Century.
    Thomas Kuhn was undoubtedly the strongest influence on the philosophy of science in the last third of the twentieth century. Yet today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century it is unclear what his legacy really is. In the philosophy of science there is no characteristically Kuhnian school. This could be because we are all Kuhnians now. But it might also be because Kuhn’s thought, although revolutionary in its time, has since been superseded. In a sense both may be true. (...)
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  38. Alexander Bird (2012). What Can Cognitive Science Tell Us About Scientific Revolutions? Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 27 (3):293-321.
    Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is notable for the readiness with which it drew on the results of cognitive psychology. These naturalistic elements were not well received and Kuhn did not subsequently develop them in his published work. Nonetheless, in a philosophical climate more receptive to naturalism, we are able to give a more positive evaluation of Kuhn’s proposals. Recently, philosophers such as Nersessian, Nickles, Andersen, Barker, and Chen have used the results of work on case-based reasoning, analogical thinking, dynamic (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  39. Alexander Bird, Thomas Kuhn. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited academic books of all time. His contribution to the philosophy science marked not only a break with several key positivist doctrines but also inaugurated a new style of philosophy of science that brought it much closer to the history of science. His account of the development of science held that science enjoys periods of stable growth punctuated by revisionary revolutions, to which he added the controversial ‘incommensurability thesis’, that theories (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  40. Alexander Bird (2007). Incommensurability Naturalized. In L'ena Soler, Howard Sankey & Paul Hoyningen-Huene (eds.), Rethinking Scientific Change and Theory Comparison. Spinger. 21--39.
    In this paper I argue that we can understand incommensurability in a naturalistic, psychological manner. Cognitive habits can be acquired and so differ between individuals. Drawing on psychological work concerning analogical thinking and thinking with schemata, I argue that incommensurability arises between individuals with different cognitive habits and between groups with different shared cognitive habits.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  41. Alexander Bird (2005). V *-Naturalizing Kuhn. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (1):99-117.
    I argue that the naturalism of Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," which he himself later ignored, is worthy of rehabilitation. A naturalistic conception of paradigms is ripe for development with the tools of cognitive science. As a consequence a naturalistic understanding of world-change and incommensurability is also viable.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (10 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  42. Alexander Bird (2004). Kuhn on Reference and Essence. Philosophia Scientiae 8 (1):39-71.
    Kuhn's incommensurability thesis seems to challenge scientific realism. One response to that challenge is to focus on the continuity of reference. The casual theory of reference in particular seems to offer the possibility of continuity of reference that woud provide a basis for the sort of comparability between theories that the realist requires. In "Dubbing and Redubbing: the vulnerability of rigid designation" Kuhn attacks the causal theory and the essentialism to which is is related. Kuhn's view is defended by Rupert (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  43. Alexander Bird (2004). Naturalizing Kuhn. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (1):99–117.
    I argue that the naturalism of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which he himself later ignored, is worthy of rehabilitation. A naturalistic conception of paradigms is ripe for development with the tools of cognitive science. As a consequence a naturalistic understanding of world-change and incommensurability is also viable.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (9 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  44. Alexander Bird (2003). Kuhn, Nominalism, and Empiricism. Philosophy of Science 70 (4):690-719.
    In this paper I draw a connection between Kuhn and the empiricist legacy, specifically between his thesis of incommensurability, in particular in its later taxonomic form, and van Fraassen's constructive empiricism. I show that if it is the case the empirically equivalent but genuinely distinct theories do exist, then we can expect such theories to be taxonomically incommensurable. I link this to Hacking's claim that Kuhn was a nominalist. I also argue that Kuhn and van Fraassen do not differ as (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  45. Alexander Bird (2002). Kuhn's Wrong Turning. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):443-463.
    Why, despite his enormous influence in the latter part of the twentieth century, has Kuhn left no distinctively Kuhnian legacy? I argue that this is because the development of Kuhn’s own thought was in a direction opposite to that of the mainstream of the philosophy of science. In the 1970s and 1980s the philosophy of science took on board the lessons of externalism as regards reference and knowledge, and became more sympathetic to a naturalistic approach to philosophical problems. Kuhn, on (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  46. Michael A. Bishop (1991). Why the Semantic Incommensurability Thesis is Self-Defeating. Philosophical Studies 63 (3):343 - 356.
  47. Michel Bitbol (2011). The Quantum Structure of Knowledge. Axiomathes 21 (2):357-371.
    This paper analyzes how conflicts of perspective are resolved in the field of the human sciences. Examples of such conflicts are the duality between the actor and spectator standpoints, or the duality of participancy between a form of social life and a socio-anthropological study of it. This type of duality look irreducible, because the conflicting positions express incompatible interests. Yet, the claim of incommensurability is excessive. There exists a level of mental activity at which dialogue and resolution are possible. Reaching (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  48. Steven Bland (forthcoming). Incommensurability, Relativism, and The Epistemic Authority Of Science. Episteme:1-11.
  49. Giovanni Boniolo (1992). Theory and Experiment. The Case of Eötvös' Experiments. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (4):459-486.
    By analysing the historical case of the proportionality between inertia and gravitation, it is possible to reconstruct one of the most relevant moments in the history of physics, that is to say, the one linked with Eötvös' experiments. At the same time, this reconstruction offers the opportunity to carry out philosophical considerations about the relationship between theory and experiment and about the concept of incommensurability.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  50. Richard N. Boyd (2001). Reference,(in) Commensurability and Meanings. In. In Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Howard Sankey (eds.), Incommensurability and Related Matters. Kluwer. 1--63.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
1 — 50 / 751