David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Theoria 12 (3):425-45 (1997)
The incommensurability thesis is the thesis that the content of some alternative scientific theories is incomparable due to translation failure between the vocabulary the theories employ. This paper presents an overview of the main issues which have arisen in the debate about incommensurability. It also briefly outlines a response to the thesis based on a modified causal theory of reference which allows change of reference subsequent to initial baptism, as well as a role to description in the determination of reference. On such a view, the content of theories may be compared on the basis of shared reference, despite failure of translation. Two recent developments involving the incommensurability thesis are also examined: (i) the taxonomic version of the incommensurability thesis found in Kuhn's later writings, (ii) Hoyningen-Huene's neo-Kantian interpretation of Kuhn's metaphysics.
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Citations of this work BETA
Eric Oberheim (2005). On the Historical Origins of the Contemporary Notion of Incommensurability: Paul Feyerabend's Assault on Conceptual Conservatism. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 36 (2):363-90.
Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Eric Oberheim (2009). Reference, Ontological Replacement and Neo-Kantianism: A Reply to Sankey. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (2):203-209.
Lefteris Farmakis (2008). Did Tom Kuhn Actually Meet Tom Bayes? Erkenntnis 68 (1):41 - 53.
Alex Stewart Davies (2013). Kuhn on Incommensurability and Theory Choice. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 44 (4):571-579.
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