Incommensurabilities in the work of Thomas Kuhn

I distinguish between two ways in which Kuhn employs the concept of incommensurability based on for whom it presents a problem. First, I argue that Kuhn’s early work focuses on the comparison and underdetermination problems scientists encounter during revolutionary periods whilst his later work focuses on the translation and interpretation problems analysts face when they engage in the representation of science from earlier periods . Secondly, I offer a new interpretation of actors’ incommensurability. I challenge Kuhn’s account of incommensurability which is based on the compartmentalisation of the problems of both underdetermination and non-additivity to revolutionary periods. Through employing a finitist perspective, I demonstrate that in principle these are also problems scientists face during normal science. I argue that the reason why in certain circumstances scientists have little difficulty in concurring over their judgements of scientific findings and claims while in others they disagree needs to be explained sociologically rather than by reference to underdetermination or non-additivity. Thirdly, I claim that disagreements between scientists should not be couched in terms of translation or linguistic problems , but should be understood as arising out of scientists’ differing judgments about how to take scientific inquiry further.Keywords: Thomas Kuhn; Incommensurability; Normal science; Revolutionary science; SSK.
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2007.11.011
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References found in this work BETA
T. S. Kuhn (1970). Logic Ofdiscovery or Psychology of Research. In Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press 22.
Nancy Nersessian (2003). Kuhn, Conceptual Change, and Cognitive Science. In Tom Nickles (ed.), Thomas Kuhn. Cambridge University Press 179-211.
Thomas S. Kuhn (1991). The Road Since Structure. In A. Fine, M. Forbes & L. Wessels (eds.), Philosophical Quarterly. Philosophy of Science Association 2-13.

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