Reference, ontological replacement and Neo-Kantianism: a reply to Sankey

Contrary to Sankey’s central assumption, incommensurability does not imply incomparability of content, nor threaten scientific realism by challenging the rationality of theory comparison. Moreover, Sankey equivocates between reference to specific entities by statements used to test theories and reference to kinds by theories themselves. This distinction helps identify and characterize the genuine threat that incommensurability poses to realism, which is ontological discontinuity as evidenced in the historical record: Successive theories reclassify objects into mutually exclusive sets of kinds to which they refer. That is why claiming that scientific progress is an increasingly better approximation to truth is difficult to justify. Similarly, Sankey’s attack on neo-Kantian antirealist positions is based on his misunderstanding of some of the central terms of those positions, making most of his attack on them ineffectual, including his diagnosis of their incoherence. We conclude by reiterating our conviction that in this debate meta-incommensurability plays an important role.Keywords: Scientific realism; Incommensurability; Meta-incommensurability; Thomas Kuhn; Paul Feyerabend; Howard Sankey
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2009.03.013
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,305
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Howard Sankey (2009). Scientific Realism and the Semantic Incommensurability Thesis. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (2):196-202.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Howard Sankey (2009). A Curious Disagreement: Response to Hoyningen-Huene and Oberheim. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (2):210-212.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

36 ( #131,604 of 1,932,544 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #149,396 of 1,932,544 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.