Acupuncture, Incommensurability, and Conceptual Change

This paper is an investigation of the degree of incommensurability between Western scientific medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, focusing on the practice and theory of acupuncture. We describe the structure of traditional Chinese medicine, oriented around such concepts as yin, yang, qi, and xing, and discuss how the conceptual and explanatory differences between Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine generate impediments to their comparison and evaluation. We argue that the linguistic, conceptual, ontological, and explanatory impediments can to a large extent be overcome, and conclude that the dramatic differences between Western and traditional Chinese medicine do not provide insurmountable barriers to rational evaluation of acupuncture. We conclude with a discussion of the intentional and emotional aspects of conceptual change.
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Philip Kitcher (1982). Implications of Incommensurability. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:689 - 703.

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