About this topic
Summary The topics dealt with under this category relate to the general nature of change in the sciences.  Most work in this area has addressed the topic of theory change, which was brought to the forefront of philosophical attention by the "historical turn", associated with such writers as Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos and Larry Laudan.  A variety of philosophical problems arise in this area, including the question of whether science progresses toward truth, the rationality of choice between theories, the structure of theories, and the possibility of comparing alternative theories.
Key works Current thinking about scientific change may be traced back to  Kuhn 1962, or later editions, e.g. Kuhn 1962.  A valuable collection of essays on the topic is Lakatos & Musgrave 1970.  See, in particular, Imre 1970, for Lakatos's proposal of a methodology of scientific research programs.  Feyerabend 1974 is an influential discussion of the topic, including its implications for methodology.  Laudan 1977 is an important critical discussion of the works of Kuhn and Lakatos, which introduces Laudan's own positive account.  Kitcher 1993 continues the discussion, while introducing important proposals with respect to a realist account of scientific change.
Introductions Chalmers 1982 is an excellent introductory textbook which provides good general coverage of the issues relating to scientific change. See Nickles 2010 for an overview of topics relating to scientific revolutions.  Devitt 1979 is an incisive discussion of the claim that alternative theories are incommensurable.  See Bird 2007 for one proposal about the nature of scientific progress, and Sankey 1995 for some aspects of the problem of the rationality of the choice between theories.
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  1. Beyond Case-Studies: History as Philosophy.Hasok Chang - unknown
    What can we conclude from a mere handful of case studies? The field of HPS has witnessed too many hasty philosophical generalizations based on a small number of conveniently chosen case studies. One might even speculate that dissatisfaction with such methodological shoddiness contributed decisively to a widespread disillusionment with the whole HPS enterprise. Without specifying clear mechanisms for history-philosophy interaction, we are condemned to either making unwarranted generalizations from history, or writing entirely "local" histories with no bearing on an overall (...)
  2. Scientific Controversies: Case Studies in the Resolution and Closure of Disputes in Science and Technology. H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Arthur L. Caplan. [REVIEW]David Edge - 1989 - Isis 80 (4):675-676.
  3. Scientific Controversies Case Studies in the Resolution and Closure of Disputes in Science and Technology.H. Tristram Engelhardt & Arthur L. Caplan - 1987
  4. 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.
  5. Some Contemporary Discussions About the Rationality of Science.Aleksandar V. Gordić - 1992 - Theoria 35 (2):77-93.
  6. Anomalies and Scientific Theories.Richard J. Hall & Willard C. Humphreys - 1969 - Philosophical Review 78 (4):535.
  7. Reasons for Relativism: Feyerabend on the ‘Rise of Rationalism’ in Ancient Greece.Helmut Heit - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 57:70-78.
  8. The Convergence of Scientific Knowledge a View From the Limit.Vincent F. Hendricks - 2001
    This book will be a rewarding reading for everybody who is interested in logical aspects of scientific knowledge acquisition. The presentation of the issues discussed in the book is exemplary. The author was able to present in parallel way three different perspectives under which the issues discussed in the book might be approached.
  9. A Heuristic Model for the Growth Process of Modern Physical Science.Gerald Holton - 1955 - Synthese 10 (1):190 - 202.
  10. The Concept of Truth in a Historistic Theory of Science.Kurt Hübner - 1980 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 11 (2):145-151.
  11. James Marcum, Thomas Kuhn's Revolutions.Vasso Kindi - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
  12. The Integral Construct of Science.Joseph Krecz - manuscript
    A number of general theories of physics provide a model for the fundamental rules that govern our universe, becoming a structural framework to which the new discoveries must conform. The theory of relativity is such a general theory. The theory of relativity is a complex theoretical framework that facilitates the understanding of the universal laws of physics. It is based on the curved space-time continuum fabric abstract concept, and it is well suited for interpreting cosmic events. More so, a general (...)
  13. New Objections to the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives.Seungbae Park - 2019 - Filosofia Unisinos 20 (2).
    The problem of unconceived alternatives can be undermined, regardless of whether the possibility space of alternatives is bounded or unbounded. If it is bounded, pessimists need to justify their assumption that the probability that scientists have not yet eliminated enough false alternatives is higher than the probability that scientists have already eliminated enough false alternatives. If it is unbounded, pessimists need to justify their assumption that the probability that scientists have not yet moved from the possibility space of false alternatives (...)
  14. Philosophers and Scientists Are Social Epistemic Agents.Seungbae Park - 2018 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.
    Philosophers and scientists are social epistemic agents. As such, they ought to behave in accordance with epistemic norms governing the behavior of social epistemic agents.
Incommensurability in Science
  1. On the Meaning of Scientific Terms.Peter Achinstein - 1964 - Journal of Philosophy 61 (17):497-509.
  2. Comparability and Incommensurability.Joseph Agassi - 2003 - Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):93 – 94.
  3. Commensurability, Incommensurability, and Cumulativity in Scientific Knowledge.Evandro Agazzi - 1985 - Erkenntnis 22 (1-3):51-77.
    Until the middle of the present century it was a commonly accepted opinion that theory change in science was the expression of cumulative progress consisting in the acquisition of new truths and the elimination of old errors. Logical empiricists developed this idea through a deductive model, saying that a theory T superseding a theory T must be able logically to explain whatever T explained and something more as well. Popper too shared this model, but stressed that T explains the old (...)
  4. Reply To: Is Incommensurability Incomparability?Juan Carlos Aguirre García - 2008 - Discusiones Filosóficas 9 (13):113 - 125.
  5. A Gadamerian Critique of Kuhn's Linguistic Turn: Incommensurability Revisited.Amani Albedah - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (3):323 – 345.
    In this article, I discuss Gadamer's hermeneutic account of understanding as an alternative to Kuhn's incommensurability thesis. After a brief account of Kuhn's aesthetic account and arguments against it, I argue that the linguistic account faces a paradox that results from Kuhn's objectivist account of understanding, and his lack of historical reflexivity. The statement 'Languages are incommensurable' is not a unique view of language, and is thus subject to contest by incommensurable readings. Resolving the paradox requires an account of incommensurability (...)
  6. On the Distinction Between Incommensurability and Inconsistency.Maria Alegre - 2001 - Logica Trianguli 5:3-18.
    The aim of this paper is to analyse the differences between the notions of incommensurability and inconsistency. The concept of incommensurability taken into account is restricted to the one of non-trivial incommensurability, which, in turn, will be associated with local untranslatability. Logical, ontological, and epistemological differences between the two former notions will be depicted. It will be shown that incommensurability consists of a sort of non-contradictory opposition relation.
  7. The Super Bowl and the Ox-Phos Controversy: "Winner-Take-All" Competition in Philosophy of Science.Douglas Allchin - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:22 - 33.
    Several diagrams and tables from review articles during the Ox-Phos Controversy serve as an occasion to assess the nature of competition in models of theory choice in science. Many models follow "Super-Bowl" principles of polar, either-or, winner-take-all competition. A significant alternative highlighted by this episode, however, is the differentiation of domains. Incommensurability and the partial divergence of overlapping domains serve both as signals and context for shifting frameworks of competition. Appropriate strategies may thus help researchers diagnose the status of competition (...)
  8. Is Putnam's Causal Theory of Meaning Compatible with Internal Realism?Valer Ambrus - 1999 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 30 (1):1-16.
    Putnam originally developed his causal theory of meaning in order to support scientific realism and reject the notion of incommensurability. Later he gave up this position and adopted instead what he called ‘internal realism’, but apparently without changing his mind on topics related to his former philosophy of language. The question must arise whether internal realism, which actually is a species of antirealism, is compatible with the causal theory of meaning. In giving an answer I begin with an analysis of (...)
  9. Conceptual Development in Interdisciplinary Research.Hanne Andersen - 2012 - In Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. De Gruyter. pp. 3--271.
  10. Edwin H.-C. Hung Beyond Kuhn. Scientific Explanation, Theory Structure, Incommensurability and Physical Necessity.Hanne Andersen - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):237-239.
  11. Incommensurability and Dynamic Conceptual Structures.Hanne Andersen - 2004 - Philosophia Scientiae 8 (1):153-168.
    One important problem concerning incommensurability is to explain how theories that are incommensurable can nevertheless compete. In this paper I shall briefly review Kuhn’s account of the difference between revolutionary and non-revolutionary conceptual developments. I shall argue that his taxonomic approach and the no-overlap principle it entails does not suffice to distinguish between revolutionary and non-revolutionary developments. I shall show that his approach builds mainly on analyses of feature correlations, and that it is necessary to include explanations of these feature (...)
  12. Incommensurability and Dynamic Conceptual Structures.Hanne Andersen - 2004 - Philosophia Scientae 8:153-168.
  13. Learning by Ostension: Thomas Kuhn on Science Education.Hanne Andersen - 2000 - Science & Education 9 (1-2):91-106.
    Significant claims about science education form an integral part of Thomas Kuhn's philosophy. Since the late 1950s, when Kuhn started wrestling with the ideas of ‘normal research’ and ‘convergent thought’, the nature of science education has played an important role in his argument. Hence, the nature of science education is an essential aspect of the phase-model of scientific development developed in his famous The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, just as his later work on categories and conceptual structures takes its starting (...)
  14. The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker & Xiang Chen - 2006 - Cambridge University Press.
    Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions became the most widely read book about science in the twentieth century. His terms 'paradigm' and 'scientific revolution' entered everyday speech, but they remain controversial. In the second half of the twentieth century, the new field of cognitive science combined empirical psychology, computer science, and neuroscience. In this book, the theories of concepts developed by cognitive scientists are used to evaluate and extend Kuhn's most influential ideas. Based on case studies of the Copernican revolution, (...)
  15. Kuhn's Mature Philosophy of Science and Cognitive Psychology.Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker & Xiang Chen - 1996 - Philosophical Psychology 9 (3):347 – 363.
    Drawing on the results of modem psychology and cognitive science we suggest that the traditional theory of concepts is no longer tenable, and that the alternative account proposed by Kuhn may now be seen to have independent empirical support quite apart from its success as part of an account of scientific change. We suggest that these mechanisms can also be understood as special cases of general cognitive structures revealed by cognitive science. Against this background, incommensurability is not an insurmountable obstacle (...)
  16. Incommensurability Bibliography.G. Andersson, Die Wissenschaft Als Objektive Erkenntnis & In E. Agazzi - 2001 - In Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Howard Sankey (eds.), Incommensurability and Related Matters. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 303.
  17. Rationality, Emotion, and Belief Revision: Waller's Move Beyond CBT & REBT.Will Angelette - 2002 - International Journal of Philosophical Practice 1 (3).
    Sarah Waller proposes that cognitive therapists and philosophical counselors ought to consider the feelings of the client of paramount importance in belief system change rather than the rationality of the belief system. I offer an alternative strategy of counseling that reinstates the place of rational belief revision while still respecting the importance of emotions. Waller claims that, because of the problem of under-determination, the counseling goal of rational belief revision can be trumped by the goal of improved client affect. I (...)
  18. Can a Historian of Science Be a Scientific Realist?Theodore Arabatzis - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S531-.
    In this paper I address some of the problems that the historical development of science poses for a realist and discuss whether a realist construal of scientific activity is conducive to historiographical practice. First, I discuss, by means of historical examples, Ian Hacking's defense of entity realism. Second, I try to show, drawing on Kuhn's recent work on incommensurability, that the realism problem is relevant to historiography and that a realist position entails a particular historiographical strategy, which faces problems. Finally, (...)
  19. Kuhn's Paradigms and Neoclassical Economics.George Argyrous - 1992 - Economics and Philosophy 8 (2):231-248.
    Thirty years after its publication, Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is still the source of much discussion in economics. Its rel-ativistic tone has often been used to fuel the claims of dissident traditions against the prevailing orthodoxy, or at least to plead the case for intellectual pluralism. Through his arguments regarding the incommensurability of different theoretical approaches to a particular subject, Kuhn's work has allowed many to argue that dissident traditions are just as legitimate as orthodoxy for analyzing (...)
  20. Multisemiosis and Incommensurability.S. K. Arun Murthi & Sundar Sarukkai - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):297-311.
    Central to Kuhn's notion of incommensurability are the ideas of meaning variance and lexicon, and the impossibility of translation of terms across different theories. Such a notion of incommensurability is based on a particular understanding of what a scientific language is. In this paper we first attempt to understand this notion of scientific language in the context of incommensurability. We consider the consequences of the essential multisemiotic character of scientific theories and show how this leads to even a single theory (...)
  21. Reference and Theory Change: The Impact of the Theory of Reference on the Incommensurability Problem.Warren Oliver Asher - 1985 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
    The thesis concerns the claim that competing scientific theories are, in important cases, "incommensurable". It has been argued that since theoretical terms derive their meaning from the theory in which they occur, the transition from one theory to another involves significant changes in the meanings of terms. The absence of common meanings has been taken to preclude the possibility of logical and evidential comparisons between competing theories. Furthermore, since such theories are not then alternative accounts of the same domain, standard (...)
  22. Paradigms and Thought Styles: Incommensurability and its Cold War Discontents From Kuhn's Harvard to Fleck's Unsung Lvov.Babette Babich - 2003 - Social Epistemology 17:97-107.
  23. From Fleck's Denkstil to Kuhn's Paradigm: Conceptual Schemes and Incommensurability.Babette E. Babich - 2003 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (1):75 – 92.
    This article argues that the limited influence of Ludwik Fleck's ideas on philosophy of science is due not only to their indirect dissemination by way of Thomas Kuhn, but also to an incommensurability between the standard conceptual framework of history and philosophy of science and Fleck's own more integratedly historico-social and praxis-oriented approach to understanding the evolution of scientific discovery. What Kuhn named "paradigm" offers a periphrastic rendering or oblique translation of Fleck's Denkstil/Denkkollektiv , a derivation that may also account (...)
  24. Kuhn's Paradigm as a Parable for the Cold War: Incommensurability and its Discontents From Fuller's Tale of Harvard to Fleck's Unsung Lvov.Babette E. Babich - 2003 - Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):99 – 109.
  25. Incommensurability and Epistemology: An Essay on Scientific Theory Choice.Anthony Dominick Baldino - 1996 - Dissertation, Columbia University
    The thesis of the incommensurability of competing scientific theories, as it has been formulated and defended by Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, implies the following: there will be competing scientific theories between which there will exist no neutral perspective from which to evaluate the merits of those theories with regards to truth. If this thesis were true, it would threaten what I take to be basic epistemic values, the values of seeking truth and avoiding error. To pass from one theory (...)
  26. Sind Die Klassische Mechanik Und Die Spezielle Relativitätstheorie Kommensurabel?Franz Balsiger & Alex Burri - 1990 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 21 (1):157-162.
    In its first part, this paper shows why a recently made attempt to reduce the special theory of relativity to Newtonian kinematics is bound to fail. In the second part, we propose a differentiated notion of incommensurability which enables us to amend the contention that the special theory of relatively and Newtonian kinematics are “incommensurable”.
  27. On the Grammatical Aspects of Radical Scientific Discovery.Aristides Baltas - 2004 - Philosophia Scientiae 8 (1):169-201.
    Radical scientific discovery and the associated radical “paradigm change” are treated here as following from the disclosure of what I call background ‘assumptions’. These are taken as more or less equivalent to the “hinge propositions” that Wittgenstein discusses in his On Certainty. On this basis, various issues connected to meaning variance, theory change, incommensurability and so forth, are discussed. It is shown that Kuhn’s overall account need not, with qualifications, imply either idealism or relativism while rationality and scientific progress can (...)
  28. On Incommensurability in Imre Lakatos and Theories of Scientific Change.W. Balzer - 1989 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 111:287-304.
  29. Incommensurability, Reduction, and Translation.W. Balzer - 1985 - Erkenntnis 23 (3):255 - 267.
  30. What is Incommensurability.W. Balzer - 1985 - Kant-Studien 76 (2):196-213.
  31. The Dusk of Incommensurability.Nimrod Bar-Am - 2003 - Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):111 – 114.
  32. Incommensurability and Conceptual Change During the Copernican Revolution.Peter Barker - 2001 - In Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Howard Sankey (eds.), Incommensurability and Related Matters. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 241--273.
  33. Kuhn, Incommensurability, and Cognitive Science.Peter Barker - 2001 - Perspectives on Science 9 (4):433-462.
    : This paper continues my application of theories of concepts developed in cognitive psychology to clarify issues in Kuhn's mature account of scientific change. I argue that incommensurability is typically neither global nor total, and that the corresponding form of scientific change occurs incrementally. Incommensurability can now be seen as a local phenomenon restricted to particular points in a conceptual framework represented by a set of nodes. The unaffected parts in the framework constitute the basis for continued communication between the (...)
  34. Contemporary Philosophy of Science in Italy: An Overview. [REVIEW]Pierluigi Barrotta - 1998 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 29 (2):327-345.
    The paper analyses the development of some themes in the contemporary philosophy of science in Italy. Section 1 reviews the dabate on the legacy of neopositivism. The spread of the philosophy of Popper is outlined in Section 2, with particular regard to the problem of the vindication of induction. Section 3 deals with the debate on the incommensurability thesis, while Section 4 examines its consequences on the possible relationships between historical and epistemological studies of science. The last section is devoted (...)
  35. Incommensurability and its Roots in Nature.Andreas Bartels - 2001 - Philosophia Naturalis 38 (1):25-36.
  36. Chains of Meaning: A Model for Concept Formation in Contemporary Physics Theories.Andreas Bartels - 1995 - Synthese 105 (3):347 - 379.
    The rationality of scientific concept formation in theory transitions, challenged by the thesis of semantic incommensurability, can be restored by theChains of Meaning approach to concept formation. According to this approach, concepts of different, succeeding theories may be identified with respect to referential meaning, in spite of grave diversity of the mathematical structures characterizing them in their respective theories. The criterion of referential identity for concepts is that they meet a relation ofsemantic embedding, i.e. that the embedding concept can be (...)
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