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. Carlos Alchourrón (forthcoming). Systematization and Change in the Science of Law. Rechtstheorie.
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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. J. H. B. (1961). The Structure of Science. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 15 (1):194-194.
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  4. Barry Barnes & Donald MacKenzie (1979). On the Role of Interests in Scientific Change. In Roy Wallis (ed.), On the Margins of Science: The Social Construction of Rejected Knowledge. University of Keele. 27--49.
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  5. George Botterill (2007). Review of Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker, Xiang Chen, The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (3).
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  6. Martin Carrier & Alfred Nordmann (2011). Science in the Context of Application: Methodological Change, Conceptual Transformation, Cultural Reorientation. In M. Carrier & A. Nordmann (eds.), Science in the Context of Application. Springer. 1--7.
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  7. 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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  8. Xiang Chen (1992). Theories, Experiments, and Human Agents: The Controversy Between Emissionists and Undulationists in Britain, 1827-1859. Dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    This dissertation is an interdisciplinary study of scientific change. The undulatory theory of light replaced the emission theory of light in the early nineteenth century, triggering an "optical revolution" and vigorous debates among physicists in Britain from the 1830s to the 1850s. In this study I give the first full account of this extended episode of scientific change, drawing on methods and concepts from history, sociology and philosophy of science. The interdisciplinary account of the episode provides a basis for criticizing (...)
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  9. Armando Cintora (2000). L. Laudan's Theory of Scientific Aims. Ludus Vitalis 8 (14):103-130.
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  10. Armando Cíntora (1999). Critical Comments on Laudan's Theory of Scientific Aims. Sorites 10:19-38.
    Laudan's proposed constraints on cognitive aims are criticized. It is argued that: Laudan does not distinguish impossible goals from impossible but approachable goals; and owing to that imprecision Laudan recommends conservatism and mediocrity. Impossible but approachable goals can be rational objectives, if we understand means/ends rationality as the attitude of someone who tries to reach the warranted optimum means to the attainment of or approximation to his desired aims. Ideals cannot be dispensed with, because in advance there is no satisfactory (...)
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  11. Patrick Enfield (1996). The Advancement of Science: Science Without Legend, Objectivity Without Illusions. Cogito 10 (2):158-159.
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  12. Sebastian Enqvist (2011). A Structuralist Framework for the Logic of Theory Change. In Erik J. Olson Sebastian Enqvist (ed.), Belief Revision Meets Philosophy of Science. Springer. 105--135.
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  13. James K. Feibleman (1959). The Logical Structure of the Scientific Method. Dialectica 13 (3‐4):208-225.
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  14. G. G. G. (1971). Fundamental Change in Law and Society. Review of Metaphysics 25 (2):360-361.
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  15. N. A. G. (1963). Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Review of Metaphysics 17 (2):311-311.
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  16. Gerald L. Geison (1981). Scientific Change, Emerging Specialties, and Research Schools. History of Science 19 (43 pt 1):20-40.
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  17. Allen J. Harder (1974). E. A. Milne, Scientific Revolutions and the Growth of Knowledge. Annals of Science 31 (4):351-363.
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  18. Paul K. Hoch (1990). Scrutinizing Science: Empirical Studies of Scientfic Change, Ed. By Arthur Donovan, Larry Laudan and Rachel Laudan. History of Science 28:211-219.
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  19. Gerald Holton (2003). Of Science Emeritus, Harvard University. His Research in the History of Science has Resulted in a Number of Books, Including The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens (1986), Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought (1988), Einstein, History, and Other Passions (2000), and (with Stephen G. Brush) Physics, the Human. [REVIEW] Science and Education 12:725-727.
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  20. H. F. Kearney (1964). Scientific Change. Philosophical Studies 13:243-245.
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  21. H. F. Kearney (1964). Scientific Change. Philosophical Studies 13:243-245.
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  22. C. L. (1957). The Copernican Revolution. Review of Metaphysics 11 (2):349-349.
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  23. David Lamb (1994). The Advancement of Science. Science Without Legend, Objectivity Without Illusions. Philosophical Books 35 (3):211-213.
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  24. Leah A. Lievrouw (1988). Four Programs of Research in Scientific Communication. Knowledge in Society 1 (2):6-22.
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  25. A. R. Louch (1965). Scientific Discovery and Legal Change. The Monist 49 (3):485-503.
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  26. Andrew Lugg (1991). Consensus and Common Ground. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 53 (3):474 - 488.
    Philosophers concerned with the character of scientific disputes tend to divide into two camps. On the one side there are those who hold that scientists can always settle their differences by appealing to shared assumptions; on the other side there are those who maintain that in many cases scientists must resort to (nonrational ) persuasion to establish their views. The trouble is that for all their strong points both approaches labour under enormous difficulties. Scientific disagreement is often much deeper than (...)
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  27. Witold Mackiewicz (2012). Czesław Dejnarowicz, Literatura Naukowa — Uczeni — Wydawcy (Scientific Literature — Scientists — Publishers). Dialectics and Humanism 8 (2):164-166.
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  28. Witold Mackiewicz (1981). Czesław Dejnarowicz, Literatura Naukowa — Uczeni — Wydawcy (Scientific Literature — Scientists — Publishers). Dialectics and Humanism 8 (2):164-166.
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  29. Miles MacLeod (2012). Rethinking Scientific Concepts for Research Contexts: The Case of the Classical Gene. In Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. De Gruyter. 3--47.
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  30. 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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  31. J. Moscoso (2001). Biographies of Scientific Objects. Daimon 24:151.
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  32. R. M. Nugaev (2002). Basic Paradigm Change The Conception of Communicative Rationality. Russian Studies in Philosophy 41 (2):23-36.
    The problem of the theoretical reconstruction of the process of scientific paradigm change is by no means a new one in the philosophy and sociology of science. Nevertheless, one cannot say that its investigation has reached the point at which an overwhelming majority of specialists would agree at least about exactly how and in what directions it is necessary to move forward. Notwithstanding this circumstance, one can specify a certain set of basic questions that are recognized as such by the (...)
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  33. L. O. Sullivan (2007). Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker, and Xiang Chen, The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Philosophy in Review 27 (3):164.
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  34. Samir Okasha (2015). On Arrow’s Theorem and Scientific Rationality: Reply to Morreau and Stegenga. Mind 124 (493):279-294.
    In a recent article I compared the problem of theory choice, in which scientists must choose between competing theories, with the problem of social choice, in which society must choose between competing social alternatives. I argued that the formal machinery of social choice theory can be used to shed light on the problem of theory choice in science, an argument that has been criticized by Michael Morreau and Jacob Stegenga. This article replies to Morreau’s and Stegenga’s criticisms.
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  35. H. Putnam (2002). Larry Laudan,*" A Confutation of Convergent Realism. In Yuri Balashov & Alexander Rosenberg (eds.), Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings. Routledge. 211.
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  36. E. A. R. (1966). Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, II. Review of Metaphysics 19 (4):820-821.
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  37. Paul A. Roth (2013). The Silence of the Norms: The Missing Historiography of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 44 (4):545-52.
    History has been disparaged since the late 19th century for not conforming to norms of scientific explanation. Nonetheless, as a matter of fact a work of history upends the regnant philosophical conception of science in the second part of the 20th century. Yet despite its impact, Kuhn’s Structure has failed to motivate philosophers to ponder why works of history should be capable of exerting rational influence on an understanding of philosophy of science. But all this constitutes a great irony and (...)
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  38. Darrell P. Rowbottom (forthcoming). Extending the Argument From Unconceived Alternatives: Observations, Models, Predictions, Explanations, Methods, Instruments, Experiments, and Values. Synthese.
    Stanford’s argument against scientific realism focuses on theories, just as many earlier arguments from inconceivability have. However, there are possible arguments against scientific realism involving unconceived (or inconceivable) entities of different types: observations, models, predictions, explanations, methods, instruments, experiments, and values. This paper charts such arguments. In combination, they present the strongest challenge yet to scientific realism.
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  39. Rustum Roy (1986). Science Must Change or Self-Destruct. BioScience 36 (10):660-661.
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  40. 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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  41. Tadeusz Sierotowicz (1996). O kosmologicznych tradycjach badawczych. Filozofia Nauki 1.
    In the paper the conception of Cosmological Research Tradition, founded on the methodology of scientific research tradition introduced by L. Laudan, is proposed. A brief remark of the status of various problems in the domain of philosophy of science is also given.
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  42. Krystyna Zamiara (2011). Droga twórcza Jerzego Kmity jako sekwencja przesunięć problemowych. Filo-Sofija 11 (12 (2011/1)):109-127.
    Author: Zamiara Krystyna Title: JERZY KMITA’S CREATIVE JOURNEY AS A SEQUENCE OF PROBLEM-SHIFTS (Droga twórcza Jerzego Kmity jako sekwencja przesunięć problemowych) Source: Filo-Sofija year: 2011, vol:.12, number: 2011/1, pages: 109-127 Keywords: KMITA, SOCIO-REGULATORY THEORY OF CULTURE, HISTORICAL EPISTEMOLOGY, SCIENCE, CULTURE, MARXISM Discipline: PHILOSOPHY Language: POLISH Document type: ARTICLE Publication order reference (Primary author’s office address): E-mail: www:This paper presents meta-philosophical considerations concerning evolution of Jerzy Kmita’s intellectual standpoint. The author focuses on two crucial “problem-shifts” which lead Kmita to his genuine (...)
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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. 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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  7. 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 (...)
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  8. 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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