Taxonomy, truth-value gaps and incommensurability: A reconstruction of Kuhn's taxonomic interpretation of incommensurability

Abstract
Kuhn's alleged taxonomic interpretation of incommensurability is grounded on an ill defined notion of untranslatability and is hence radically incomplete. To supplement it, I reconstruct Kuhn's taxonomic interpretation on the basis of a logical-semantic theory of taxonomy, a semantic theory of truth-value, and a truth-value conditional theory of cross-language communication. According to the reconstruction, two scientific languages are incommensurable when core sentences of one language, which have truth values when considered within its own context, lack truth values when considered within the context of the other due to the unmatchable taxonomic structures underlying them. So constructed, Kuhn's mature interpretation of incommensurability does not depend upon the notion of truth-preserving translatability, but rather depends on the notion of truth-value-status-preserving cross-language communication. The reconstruction makes Kuhn's notion of incommensurability a well grounded, tenable and integrated notion.
Keywords Thomas Kuhn  incommensurability  taxonomy  theory of truth-value  cross-language communication  truth-value status  truth-value gaps  conceptual schemes  scientific theory  untranslatability
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(01)00039-5
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PhilPapers Archive Xinli Wang, Taxonomy, truth-value gaps and incommensurability: A reconstruction of Kuhn's taxonomic interpretation of incommensurability
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References found in this work BETA
Thomas S. Kuhn (1977). Second Thoughts on Paradigms. In F. Suppe (ed.), The Essential Tension. University of Chicago Press 293--319.
Thomas S. Kuhn (1991). The Road Since Structure. In A. Fine, M. Forbes & L. Wessels (eds.), Philosophical Quarterly. Philosophy of Science Association 2-13.
Thomas S. Kuhn (1982). Commensurability, Comparability, Communicability. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:669 - 688.

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Citations of this work BETA
S. K. Arun Murthi & Sundar Sarukkai (2009). Multisemiosis and Incommensurability. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):297-311.

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