About this topic
Summary The issue of conceptual change or meaning change in science arose in the context of the rejection of logical positivist and logical empiricist accounts of the meaning of theoretical terms in the 1950's.  Philosophers such as Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend argued that the meaning of observational and theoretical terms undergoes variation in the transition between scientific theories.  In the original context of this debate, there was no clear distinction between the claim that the meaning of scientific terms changes and the claim that scientific concepts undergo variation.  The main critical response to the claims of profound meaning variance of Kuhn and Feyerabend were associated with the "new" or "causal" theory of reference proposed in the late 1960's and early 1970's by Hilary Putnam and Saul Kripke.  In recent years approaches to conceptual change which derive inspiration from cognitive psychology have increasingly been developed.
Key works For Feyerabend's discussion of meaning change, see 'An Attempt at a Realistic Interpretation of Experience'.  Putnam discusses the issue in 'Explanation and Reference'.  For recent approaches drawing on cognitive psychology, see Nancy Nersessian's 'A Cognitive-Historical Approach to Meaning in Scientific Theories' and Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker and Xiang Chen's 'Kuhn's Mature Philosophy of Science and Cognitive Psychology'.
Introductions Brown 2006; Levin 1979; Nola 1980; Sankey 2000
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1 — 50 / 242
  1. added 2019-01-08
    Scientific Progress: Why Getting Closer to Truth is Not Enough.Moti Mizrahi - forthcoming - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
    The aim of this discussion note is to contribute to the ongoing debate over the nature of scientific progress. I argue against the semantic view of scientific progress, according to which scientific progress consists in approximation to truth or increasing verisimilitude. If the semantic view of scientific progress were true, then scientists would make scientific progress simply by arbitrarily adding true disjuncts to their hypotheses or theories. Given that it is not the case that scientists would make scientific progress simply (...)
  2. added 2018-12-20
    Towards a Computational History of Ideas.Arianna Betti & Hein Van Den Berg - 2016 - CEUR Workshop Proceedings, 1681.
    The History of Ideas is presently enjoying a certain renaissance after a long period of disrepute. Increasing quantities of digitally available historical texts and the availability of computational tools for the exploration of such masses of sources, it is suggested, can be of invaluable help to historians of ideas. The question is: how exactly? In this paper, we argue that a computational history of ideas is possible if the following two conditions are satisfied: (i) Sound Method . A computational history (...)
  3. added 2018-12-19
    Between Cassirer and Kuhn. Some Remarks on Friedman’s Relativized a Priori.Massimo Ferrari - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):18-26.
  4. added 2018-10-15
    Conceptual Development in Interdisciplinary Research.Hanne Andersen - 2012 - In Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. De Gruyter. pp. 3--271.
  5. added 2018-10-14
    Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice.Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.) - 2012 - de Gruyter.
    Combining philosophical and historical scholarship, the articles in this volume focus on scientific concepts, rather than theories, as units of analysis. They thereby contribute to a growing literature about the role of concepts in scientific research. The authors are particularly interested in exploring the dynamics of research; they investigate the ways in which scientists form and use concepts, rather than in what the concepts themselves represent. The fields treated range from mathematics to virology and genetics, from nuclear physics to psychology, (...)
  6. added 2018-10-14
    Book Review:Faraday to Einstein: Constructing Meaning in Scientific Theories Nancy J. Nersessian. [REVIEW]Patrick Enfield - 1985 - Philosophy of Science 52 (4):641-.
  7. added 2018-10-08
    David Stump. Conceptual Change and the Philosophy of Science: Alternative Interpretations of the A Priori. New York: Routledge, 2015. Pp. 176. $116.00. [REVIEW]Milena Ivanova - 2017 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 7 (1):151-153.
  8. added 2018-09-19
    Constitutive Elements in Science Beyond Physics: The Case of the Hardy–Weinberg Principle.Michele Luchetti - forthcoming - Synthese.
    In this paper, I present a new framework supporting the claim that some elements in science play a constitutive function, with the aim of overcoming some limitations of Friedman's (2001) account. More precisely, I focus on what I consider to be the gradualism implicit in Friedman's interpretation of the constitutive a priori, that is, the fact that it seems to allow for degrees of 'constitutivity'. I tease out such gradualism by showing that the constitutive character Friedman aims to track can (...)
  9. added 2018-09-04
    Joseph LaPorte: Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change. [REVIEW]Muhammad Ali Khalidi - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (3):519-523.
  10. added 2018-07-29
    We Are Not Witnesses to a New Scientific Revolution.Gregor Schiemann - 2014 - In A. Nordmann & H. Radder (eds.), Science Transformed? Debating Claims of an Epochal Break. Velbrück. pp. 31-42.
    Do the changes that have taken place in the structures and methods of the production of scientific knowledge and in our understanding of science over the past fifty years justify speaking of an epochal break in the development of science? Gregor Schiemann addresses this issues through the notion of a scientific revolution and claims that at present we are not witnessing a new scientific revolution. Instead, Schiemann argues that after the so-called Scientific Revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a (...)
  11. added 2018-07-29
    An Epoch-Making Change in the Development of Science? A Critique of the “Epochal-Break-Thesis”.Gregor Schiemann - 2011 - In M. Carrier & A. Nordmann (eds.), Science in the Context of Application. Springer. pp. 431--453.
    In recent decades, several authors have claimed that an epoch-making change in the development of science is taking place. A closer examination of this claim shows that these authors take different – and problematic – concepts of an epochal break as their points of departure. In order to facilitate an evaluation of the current development of science, I would like to propose a concept of an epochal change according to which it is not necessarily a discontinuous process that typically begins (...)
  12. added 2018-07-17
    The (Lack of) Evidence for the Kuhnian Image of Science.Moti Mizrahi - 2018 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7 (7):19-24.
    In their reviews of The Kuhnian Image of Science: Time for a Decisive Transformation? (2018), both Markus Arnold (2018) and Amanda Bryant (2018) complain that the contributors who criticize Kuhn’s theory of scientific change have misconstrued his philosophy of science and they praise those who seek to defend the Kuhnian image of science. In what follows, then, I would like to address their claims about misconstruing Kuhn’s theory of scientific change. But my focus here, as in the book, will be (...)
  13. added 2018-06-07
    The Aesthetics of Theory Selection and the Logics of Art.Ian O'Loughlin & Katie McCallum - 2018 - Philosophy of Science.
    Philosophers of science discuss whether theory selection depends on aesthetic judgments or criteria, and whether these putatively aesthetic features are genuinely extra-epistemic. As examples, judgments involving criteria such as simplicity and symmetry are often cited. However, other theory selection criteria, such as fecundity, coherence, internal consistency, and fertility, more closely match those criteria used in art contexts and by scholars working in aesthetics. Paying closer attention to the way these criteria are used in art contexts allows us to understand some (...)
  14. added 2018-05-28
    Incommensurability and Cross-Language Communication.Xinli Wang - 2007 - Ashgate Publishing Ltd, England.
    Against the received translation-failure interpretation, this book presents a presuppositional interpretation of incommensurability, that is, the thesis of incommensurability as cross-language communication breakdown due to the incompatible metaphysical presuppositions underlying two competing presuppositional languages, such as scientific languages. This semantically sound, epistemologically well-established, and metaphysically profound interpretation not only affirms the tenability of the notion of incommensurability and confirms the reality of the phenomenon of incommensurability, but also makes some significant contributions to the discussion of many related issues, such as (...)
  15. added 2018-05-18
    Realism and Explanatory Perspectivism.Juha Saatsi - forthcoming - In Michela Massimi & C. D. McCoy (eds.), Understanding Perspectivism: Scientific Challenges and Methodological Prospects. New York: Routledge.
    This chapter defends a (minimal) realist conception of progress in scientific understanding in the face of the ubiquitous plurality of perspectives in science. The argument turns on the counterfactual-dependence framework of explanation and understanding, which is illustrated and evidenced with reference to different explanations of the rainbow.
  16. added 2018-04-30
    Building on Sellars: Concept Formation and Scientific Realism. [REVIEW]Tanya Kelley - 2008 - Metascience 17 (2):257-259.
    Harold Brown has written an ambitious work, which traces the formation of concepts in individuals and cultures, examines case studies of concepts in calculus, mathematics, biology and related fields, summarises important philosophical works on the theory of concepts, and seeks to reconcile scientific realism with conceptual change. Brown considers himself a scientific realist but concedes that this very label is one that depends on a long history of concepts that came before, and may indeed be superseded as conceptual change continues. (...)
  17. added 2018-03-16
    Reference to the Best Explanation.Arash Pessian - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):363-374.
    This paper shows that two questions productively overlap: first, in virtue of what does an agent infer one hypothesis rather than another? Second, in virtue of what does an agent refer to one natural kind rather than another? Peter Lipton answers the first question by articulating the model of inference to the best explanation. Lipton’s answer to the first question is appropriated as an answer to the second.Keywords: Reference; Explanation; Natural kind; Qua problem; Peter Lipton.
  18. added 2018-02-17
    Taxonomy, Truth-Value Gaps and Incommensurability: A Reconstruction of Kuhn's Taxonomic Interpretation of Incommensurability.Xinli Wang - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):465-485.
    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 (...)
  19. added 2017-12-31
    The Atomic Number Revolution in Chemistry: A Kuhnian Analysis.K. Brad Wray - 2018 - Foundations of Chemistry 20 (3):209-217.
    This paper argues that the field of chemistry underwent a significant change of theory in the early twentieth century, when atomic number replaced atomic weight as the principle for ordering and identifying the chemical elements. It is a classic case of a Kuhnian revolution. In the process of addressing anomalies, chemists who were trained to see elements as defined by their atomic weight discovered that their theoretical assumptions were impediments to understanding the chemical world. The only way to normalize the (...)
  20. added 2017-12-11
    Strategic Conceptual Engineering for Epistemic and Social Aims.Ingo Brigandt & Esther Rosario - forthcoming - In Alexis Burgess, Herman Cappelen & David Plunkett (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Examining previous discussions on how to construe the concepts of gender and race, we advocate what we call strategic conceptual engineering. This is the employment of a (possibly novel) concept for specific epistemic or social aims, concomitant with the openness to use a different concept (e.g., of race) for other purposes. We illustrate this approach by sketching three distinct concepts of gender and arguing that all of them are needed, as they answer to different social aims. The first concept serves (...)
  21. added 2017-09-14
    Rethinking the Problem of Cognition.Mikio Akagi - 2018 - Synthese 195 (8):3547-3570.
    The present century has seen renewed interest in characterizing cognition, the object of inquiry of the cognitive sciences. In this paper, I describe the problem of cognition—the absence of a positive characterization of cognition despite a felt need for one. It is widely recognized that the problem is motivated by decades of controversy among cognitive scientists over foundational questions, such as whether non-neural parts of the body or environment can realize cognitive processes, or whether plants and microbes have cognitive processes. (...)
  22. added 2017-09-03
    Friedman, Galileo, and Reciprocal Iteration.David Marshall Miller - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1293-1305.
    In Dynamics of Reason (2001), Michael Friedman uses the example of Galilean rectilinear inertia to support his defense of scientific rationality against post-positivist skepticism. However, Friedman’s treatment of the case is flawed, such that his model of scientific change fails to fit the historical evidence. I present the case of Galileo, showing how it supports Friedman’s view of scientific knowledge, but undermines his view of scientific change. I then suggest reciprocal iteration as an amendment of Friedman’s view that better accounts (...)
  23. added 2017-07-09
    Kuhn's Evolutionary Social Epistemology.K. Brad Wray - 2011 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions has been enduringly influential in philosophy of science, challenging many common presuppositions about the nature of science and the growth of scientific knowledge. However, philosophers have misunderstood Kuhn's view, treating him as a relativist or social constructionist. In this book, Brad Wray argues that Kuhn provides a useful framework for developing an epistemology of science that takes account of the constructive role that social factors play in scientific inquiry. He examines the core concepts of Structure (...)
  24. added 2017-07-09
    Andersen, Barker & Chen, The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Juan Vincente Mayoral - unknown
  25. added 2017-07-09
    Exploring the Link Between Students' Scientific and Nonscientific Conceptions.David H. Palmer - 1999 - Science Education 83 (6):639-653.
  26. added 2017-07-09
    Review of David Hull Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. [REVIEW]Keith Vernon - 1989 - British Journal for the History of Science 22 (4):461-462.
  27. added 2017-07-09
    The Structure and Development of Science.Jeremy Shearmur, Gerard Radnitzky & Gunnar Andersson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (128):289.
  28. added 2017-07-05
    The Advancement of Science: Science Without Legend, Objectivity Without Illusions: Philip Kitcher (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), Viii+ 421 Pp. ISBN 0-19-504628-5. [REVIEW]Steve Fuller - 1994 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 25 (2):251-261.
  29. added 2017-07-05
    Book Review:The Advancement of Science: Science Without Legend, Objectivity Without Illusion Philip Kitcher. [REVIEW]Jarrett Leplin - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (4):666-.
  30. added 2017-07-03
    Experimentation and the Meaning of Scientific Concepts.Theodore Arabatzis - 2012 - In Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. De Gruyter. pp. 3--149.
  31. added 2017-07-03
    Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior.Mark Wilson - 2006 - Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    Mark Wilson presents a highly original and broad-ranging investigation of the way we get to grips with the world conceptually, and the way that philosophical problems commonly arise from this. He combines traditional philosophical concerns about human conceptual thinking with illuminating data derived from a large variety of fields including physics and applied mathematics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics. Wandering Significance offers abundant new insights and perspectives for philosophers of language, mind, and science, and will also reward the interest of psychologists, (...)
  32. added 2017-07-03
    Observation, Language, and Theory Choice.Donald Robert Meyer - 1981 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    The dissertation addresses the issue of theory change in science and the role observation plays in determining theory choice. Three views are examined and contrasted: the traditional logical empiricist view, Kuhn's view that theory change is "revolutionary," and Quine's view that theory change is "evolutionary." The issues which separate the three views of theory change focus heavily on the nature of observation sentences and the extent to which they can be said to provide a theory neutral evidential basis for theory (...)
  33. added 2017-06-30
    Using Conceptual Spaces to Exhibit Conceptual Continuity Through Scientific Theory Change.George Masterton, Frank Zenker & Peter Gärdenfors - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (1):127-150.
    There is a great deal of justified concern about continuity through scientific theory change. Our thesis is that, particularly in physics, such continuity can be appropriately captured at the level of conceptual frameworks using conceptual space models. Indeed, we contend that the conceptual spaces of three of our most important physical theories—Classical Mechanics, Special Relativity Theory, and Quantum Mechanics —have already been so modelled as phase-spaces. Working with their phase-space formulations, one can trace the conceptual changes and continuities in transitioning (...)
  34. added 2017-06-30
    Communication, Rationality, and Conceptual Changes in Scientific Theories.Peter Gärdenfors & Frank Zenker - 2014 - In Peter Gärdenfors & Frank Zenker (eds.), Applications of Conceptual Spaces. Springer Verlag.
    This article outlines how conceptual spaces theory applies to modeling changes of scientific frameworks when these are treated as spatial structures rather than as linguistic entities. The theory is briefly introduced and five types of changes are presented. It is then contrasted with Michael Friedman’s neo-Kantian account that seeks to render Kuhn’s “paradigm shift” as a communicatively rational historical event of conceptual development in the sciences. Like Friedman, we refer to the transition from Newtonian to relativistic mechanics as an example (...)
  35. added 2017-06-30
    Which Way Is Up? Thomas S. Kuhn's Analogy to Conceptual Development in Childhood.Alexander T. Levine - 2000 - Science & Education 9 (1-2):107-122.
  36. added 2017-06-30
    Über Einen Methodisch Geordneten Aufbau der Speziellen Relativitätstheorie.Manfred Buth - 1998 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 29 (1):21-36.
    About a methodically ordered reconstruction of the theory of special relativity. One of the main results of the theory of special relativity is that our basic concepts concerning space and time must be revised, because there is new experimental evidence. But on the other hand it was meant to move in a circular procedure, if the usual methods of measuring distances and temporal durations are refused on the ground of experimental results that are based on even these measuring methods. Thus (...)
  37. added 2017-06-30
    A Cognitive-Historical Approach to Meaning in Scientific Theories.Nancy J. Nersessian - 1987 - In The Process of Science: Contemporary Philosophical Approaches to Understanding Scientific Practice. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  38. added 2017-06-30
    Creating Scientific Concepts.Nancy Nersessian - unknown
    How do novel scientific concepts arise? In Creating Scientific Concepts, Nancy Nersessian seeks to answer this central but virtually unasked question in the problem of conceptual change. She argues that the popular image of novel concepts and profound insight bursting forth in a blinding flash of inspiration is mistaken. Instead, novel concepts are shown to arise out of the interplay of three factors: an attempt to solve specific problems; the use of conceptual, analytical, and material resources provided by the cognitive-social-cultural (...)
  39. added 2017-06-28
    The Kuhnian Image of Science: Time for a Decisive Transformation?Moti Mizrahi (ed.) - 2018 - London: Rowman & Littlefield.
    More than 50 years after the publication of Thomas Kuhn’s seminal book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, this volume assesses the adequacy of the Kuhnian model in explaining certain aspects of science, particularly the social and epistemic aspects of science. One argument put forward is that there are no good reasons to accept Kuhn’s incommensurability thesis, according to which scientific revolutions involve the replacement of theories with conceptually incompatible ones. Perhaps, therefore, it is time for another “decisive transformation in the (...)
  40. added 2017-06-07
    How is Conceptual Innovation Possible?L. Jonathan Cohen - 1986 - Erkenntnis 25 (2):221 - 238.
    No one nowadays would deny the importance of conceptual innovation in the growth of scientific knowledge. But how is it possible? And by this I do not mean: what kinds of social, economic, or mental develop- ments are causally responsible for promoting it? That is a question for historians, sociologists and psychologists of science to answer. Instead I shall concern myself with a more philosophical issue, namely: how can the possibility of conceptual innovation be compatible with the way in which (...)
  41. added 2017-03-02
    Pluto and the 'Planet Problem': Folk Concepts and Natural Kinds in Astronomy.Alisa Bokulich - 2014 - Perspectives on Science 22 (4):464-490.
    The 2006 decision by the International Astronomical Union to strip Pluto of its status as a planet generated considerable uproar not only in scientific circles, but among the lay public as well. After all, how can a vote by 424 scientists in a conference room in Prague undermine what every well-educated second grader knows is a scientific fact? The Pluto controversy provides a new and fertile ground in which to revisit the traditional philosophical problems of natural kinds and scientific change. (...)
  42. added 2017-02-16
    Scientific Revolutions, Specialization and the Discovery of the Structure of DNA: Toward a New Picture of the Development of the Sciences.Politi Vincenzo - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):2267-2293.
    In his late years, Thomas Kuhn became interested in the process of scientific specialization, which does not seem to possess the destructive element that is characteristic of scientific revolutions. It therefore makes sense to investigate whether and how Kuhn’s insights about specialization are consistent with, and actually fit, his model of scientific progress through revolutions. In this paper, I argue that the transition toward a new specialty corresponds to a revolutionary change for the group of scientists involved in such a (...)
  43. added 2017-02-15
    MindWorks: Making Scientific Concepts Come Alive.Barbara J. Becker - 2000 - Science & Education 9 (3):269-278.
  44. added 2017-02-15
    Representation of the Conceptual Change Model in Science Teacher Education.N. Richard Thorley & René T. Stofflett - 1996 - Science Education 80 (3):317-339.
  45. added 2017-02-15
    The Advancement of Science: Science Without Legend, Objectivity Without Illusions.José Antonio Díez Calzada - 1994 - Theoria 9 (1):212-216.
  46. added 2017-02-15
    Understanding Conservation Laws in Mechanics: Students' Conceptual Change in Learning About Collisions.N. Grimellini‐Tomasini, B. Pecori‐Balandi, J. L. A. Pacca & A. Villani - 1993 - Science Education 77 (2):169-189.
  47. added 2017-02-15
    Students' Understanding of Light and its Properties: Teaching to Engender Conceptual Change.Tony Fetherstonhaugh & David F. Treagust - 1992 - Science Education 76 (6):653-672.
  48. added 2017-02-15
    Conceptual Change in Science and Science Education.Alberto Villani - 1992 - Science Education 76 (2):223-237.
  49. added 2017-02-14
    From Conceptual Change to Transformative Modeling: A Case Study of an Elementary Teacher in Learning Astronomy.Ji Shen & Jere Confrey - 2007 - Science Education 91 (6):948-966.
  50. added 2017-02-14
    Describing Teachers' Conceptual Ecologies for the Nature of Science.Sherry A. Southerland, Adam Johnston & Scott Sowell - 2006 - Science Education 90 (5):874-906.
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