David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Erkenntnis 27 (3):323 - 352 (1987)
Incommensurable theories are said to be both incompatible and incomparable. This is paradoxical, because, being incompatible, these theories must have the same subject-matter, yet incomparability implies that their subject-matter is different. This paper's proposed resolution of the paradox makes use of the distinction between internal subject-matter and external subject-matter for languages (frameworks) as outlined by W. Sellars. Incommensurability arises when two languages share the same external subject-matter but differ in internal subject-matter. When they share the same external subject-matter, they can be inconsistent (hence incompatible), and yet incomparable (because they are about distinct internal subject-matter). A substantial part of the paper is devoted to the technical development of the notion of inconsistency as a relationship between languages in contrast to the traditional notion of inconsistency between statements.
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Citations of this work BETA
Xinli Wang (2002). Taxonomy, Truth-Value Gaps and Incommensurability: A Reconstruction of Kuhn's Taxonomic Interpretation of Incommensurability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):465-485.
Edwin H. -C. Hung (2001). Kuhnian Paradigms as Representational Spaces: New Perspectives on the Problems of Incommensurability, Scientific Explanation, and Physical Necessity. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 15 (3):275 – 292.
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