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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245 found
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  1. added 2020-05-25
    How is a Revolutionary Scientific Paper Cited?: The Case of Hess’ “History of Ocean Basins”.K. Brad Wray - forthcoming - Scientometrics.
    I examine the citation patterns to a revolutionary scientific paper, Hess’ “History of Ocean Basins”, which played a significant role in the plate tectonics revolution in the geosciences. I test two predictions made by the geoscientist Menard (in Science: growth and change. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1971): (1) that the peak year of citations for Hess’ article will be 1968; and (2) that the rate of citations to the article will then reach some lower level, continuing on accumulating citations at (...)
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  2. added 2020-05-16
    Doing Integrated History and Philosophy of Science: A Case Study of the Origin of Genetics.Yafeng Shan - 2020 - Cham: Springer.
    This book offers an integrated historical and philosophical examination of the origin of genetics. The author contends that an integrated HPS analysis helps us to have a better understanding of the history of genetics, and sheds light on some general issues in the philosophy of science. This book consists of three parts. It begins with historical problems, revisiting the significance of the work of Mendel, de Vries, and Weldon. Then it turns to integrated HPS problems, developing an exemplar-based analysis of (...)
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  3. added 2020-03-10
    Reporting the Discovery of New Chemical Elements: Working in Different Worlds, Only 25 Years Apart.K. Brad Wray & Line Edslev Andersen - forthcoming - Foundations of Chemistry:1-10.
    In his account of scientific revolutions, Thomas Kuhn suggests that after a revolutionary change of theory, it is as if scientists are working in a different world. In this paper, we aim to show that the notion of world change is insightful. We contrast the reporting of the discovery of neon in 1898 with the discovery of hafnium in 1923. The one discovery was made when elements were identified by their atomic weight; the other discovery was made after scientists came (...)
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  4. added 2020-03-01
    Theories as Recipes: Third-Order Virtue and Vice.Michaela Markham McSweeney - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (2):391-411.
    A basic way of evaluating metaphysical theories is to ask whether they give satisfying answers to the questions they set out to resolve. I propose an account of “third-order” virtue that tells us what it takes for certain kinds of metaphysical theories to do so. We should think of these theories as recipes. I identify three good-making features of recipes and show that they translate to third-order theoretical virtues. I apply the view to two theories—mereological universalism and plenitudinous platonism—and draw (...)
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  5. added 2020-02-29
    Correspondence Rules.Kenneth F. Schaffner - 1969 - Philosophy of Science 36 (3):280-290.
    The traditional role which correspondence rules, coordinating definitions, or semantical rules, have in a logical analysis of a scientific theory is questioned by providing an alternative analysis. The alternative account suggests that scientific theories are "meaningful" prior to the establishment of correspondence rules, and that correspondence rules are introduced to permit explanation and testing in the "observational" sector. The role of models is briefly assessed in connection with this prior or "antecedent theoretical meaning," and a causal sequence analysis of a (...)
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  6. added 2020-02-23
    Nonepistemic Values and the Multiple Goals of Science.Kevin Elliott & Daniel McKaughan - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (1):1-21.
    Recent efforts to argue that nonepistemic values have a legitimate role to play in assessing scientific models, theories, and hypotheses typically either reject the distinction between epistemic and nonepistemic values or incorporate nonepistemic values only as a secondary consideration for resolving epistemic uncertainty. Given that scientific representations can legitimately be evaluated not only based on their fit with the world but also with respect to their fit with the needs of their users, we show in two case studies that nonepistemic (...)
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  7. added 2020-02-23
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
  8. added 2019-12-21
    A Compatibility Law and the Classification of Theory Change.Patrick Fraser & Ameer Sarwar - 2018 - Scientonomy: Journal for the Science of Science 2:67-82.
    The current formulation of the zeroth law (the law of compatibility) is marred with a number of theoretical problems, which necessitate its reformulation. In this paper, we propose that compatibility is an independent stance that can be taken towards epistemic elements of all types. We then provide a new definition of compatibility criteria to reflect this change. We show that the content of the zeroth law is deducible from our definition of compatibility. Instead of a static law of compatibility, we (...)
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  9. added 2019-09-19
    New Water in Old Buckets: Hypothetical and Counterfactual Reasoning in Mach’s Economy of Science.Lydia Patton - 2019 - In Friedrich Stadler (ed.), Ernst Mach – Life, Work, Influence. Springer Verlag.
    Ernst Mach’s defense of relativist theories of motion in Die Mechanik involves a well-known criticism of Newton’s theory appealing to absolute space, and of Newton’s “bucket” experiment. Sympathetic readers (Norton 1995) and critics (Stein 1967, 1977) agree that there’s a tension in Mach’s view: he allows for some constructed scientific concepts, but not others, and some kinds of reasoning about unobserved phenomena, but not others. Following Banks (2003), I argue that this tension can be interpreted as a constructive one, springing (...)
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  10. added 2019-09-09
    Coordination Instead of Consensus Classification: Insights From Systematics for Bio-Ontologies.Beckett Sterner, Joeri Witteveen & Nico Franz - forthcoming - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences.
    Big data is opening new angles on old questions about scientific progress. Is scientific knowledge cumulative? If yes, how does it make progress? In the life sciences, what we call the Consensus Principle has dominated the design of data discovery and integration tools: the design of a formal classificatory system for expressing a body of data should be grounded in consensus. Based on current approaches in biomedicine and systematic biology, we formulate and compare three types of the Consensus Principle: realist, (...)
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  11. added 2019-06-06
    The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change, by Paul Thagard.: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Wesley Buckwalter - 2013 - Mind 122 (488):1201-1204.
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    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.
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change: Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology. [REVIEW]Richard A. Richards - 2005 - International Philosophical Quarterly 45 (3):412-414.
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    A Program For The Individuation Of Scientific Concepts.Jose A. Diez - 2002 - Synthese 130 (1):13-47.
    Within post - Kuhnian, philosophy of science, much effort has been devoted to issues related to conceptual change, such as incommensurability, scientific progress and realism, but mostly in terms of reference, without a fine - grained theory of scientific concepts/senses. Within the philosophy of language and of mind tradition, there is a large body of work on concepts, but the application to scientific concepts has been very tentative. The aim of this paper is to propose a general framework for a (...)
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  15. added 2019-06-06
    Modelling Conceptual Revolutions.Paul Thagard - 1996 - Dialogue 35 (1):155-159.
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  16. added 2019-06-06
    Conceptual Revolutions? How Not to Naturalize the Philosophy of Science.Don Ross - 1996 - Dialogue 35 (1):147-154.
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  17. added 2019-06-06
    David L. Hull. Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1988. Pp. Xii + 586. ISBN 0-226-36050-4. £31.95. [REVIEW]Keith Vernon - 1989 - British Journal for the History of Science 22 (4):461-462.
  18. added 2019-06-05
    Kuhn and Conceptual Change: On the Analogy Between Conceptual Changes in Science and Children.Christian Greiffenhagen & Wendy Sherman - 2008 - Science & Education 17 (1):1-26.
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  19. added 2019-06-05
    Science and Literature: Towards a Conceptual Framework.John Cartwright - 2007 - Science & Education 16 (2):115-139.
  20. added 2019-06-05
    Conceptual Change or Conceptual Profile Change?Eduardo F. Mortimer - 1995 - Science & Education 4 (3):267-285.
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  21. added 2019-06-05
    The Advancement of Science: Science Without Legend, Objectivity Without Illusion. Philip Kitcher. [REVIEW]Jarrett Leplin - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (4):666-671.
  22. added 2019-05-07
    Other Histories, Other Biologies.Gregory Radick - 2005 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 56:3-.
    Concentrating on genetics, this paper examines the strength of the links between our biological science -- our biology -- and the particular history which brought that science into being. Would quite different histories have produced roughly the same science? Or, on the contrary, would different histories have produced other, quite different biologies? One emphasis throughout is on the kinds of evidence that might be brought to bear from the actual past in order to assess claims about what might have been. (...)
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  23. added 2019-01-26
    Natural Kinds and Concept Eliminativism.Samuli Pöyhönen - 2013 - In Vassilios Karakostas & Dennis Dieks (eds.), Epsa11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science. Springer. pp. 167--179.
    Recently in the philosophy of psychology it has been suggested that several putative phenomena such as emotions, memory, or concepts are not genuine natural kinds and should therefore be eliminated from the vocabulary of scientific psychology. In this paper I examine the perhaps most well known case of scientific eliminativism, Edouard Machery’s concept eliminativism. I argue that the split-lump-eliminate scheme of con- ceptual change underlying Machery’s eliminativist proposal assumes a simplistic view of the functioning of scientific concepts. Conceiving of scientific (...)
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  24. added 2019-01-08
    Scientific Progress: Why Getting Closer to Truth Is Not Enough.Moti Mizrahi - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (4):415-419.
    ABSTRACTThis discussion note aims 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 correct, 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 could make scientific progress simply by arbitrarily adding (...)
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  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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, (...)
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  28. 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.
  29. 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 (...)
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  30. added 2018-09-04
    Joseph LaPorte: Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change. [REVIEW]Muhammad Ali Khalidi - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (3):519-523.
  31. 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 (...)
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  32. added 2018-06-07
    The Aesthetics of Theory Selection and the Logics of Art.Ian O’Loughlin & Kate McCallum - 2018 - Philosophy of Science (2):325-343.
    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 (...)
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  33. 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 (...)
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  34. 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.
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  35. 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. (...)
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  36. 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 (...)
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  37. added 2017-12-31
    The Atomic Number Revolution in Chemistry: A Kuhnian Analysis.K. 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 (...)
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  38. added 2017-12-11
    Strategic Conceptual Engineering for Epistemic and Social Aims.Ingo Brigandt & Esther Rosario - 2020 - In Alexis Burgess, Herman Cappelen & David Plunkett (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 100-124.
    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 (...)
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  39. 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. (...)
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  40. 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 (...)
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  41. 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 (...)
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  42. added 2017-07-09
    Andersen, Barker & Chen, The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Juan Vicente Mayoral - 2010 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 24 (3):357-359.
  43. added 2017-07-09
    Exploring the Link Between Students' Scientific and Nonscientific Conceptions.David H. Palmer - 1999 - Science Education 83 (6):639-653.
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  44. added 2017-07-09
    The Structure and Development of Science.Jeremy Shearmur, Gerard Radnitzky & Gunnar Andersson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (128):289.
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  45. 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.
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  46. 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, (...)
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  47. 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 (...)
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  48. 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 (...)
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  49. 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 (...)
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  50. 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.
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