About this topic
Summary Interest in the topic of scientific theory change (and theory choice) arose in the context of the "historical turn" in the philosophy of science associated with Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend and others.  While a significant focus of the theory change literature relates to the transition between theories in the context of a scientific revolution, the general topic of theory change is not restricted to revolutionary transition between theories.  It covers not only non-revolutionary transition between theories, but also change internal to theory.
Key works The work that placed this topic on the philosophical agenda is Kuhn 1962, and later editions, e.g. Kuhn 1962.  An important book dealing with philosophical reactions to Kuhn's account of theory change is Lakatos & Musgrave 1970 (see especially Imre 1970).  Another important document is Suppe 1974.
Introductions Chalmers 1979
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1 — 50 / 337
  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 2019-01-05
    Karl Popper, Science and Enlightenment (Nicholas Maxwell) (Review). [REVIEW]William Peden - 2018 - Metapsychology Online Reviews 22 (44).
    Nicholas Maxwell is not afraid of big ideas. As the title suggests, this book covers several sweeping topics: aside from those in the title, Maxwell discusses the methodology of social science, interdisciplinarity, quantum mechanics, and more besides. Given the 325-page word-length, this scope inevitably means that the ideas and arguments are frequently underdeveloped. However, despite this proportion of pages to topics, Maxwell's book is clear, accessible, and (most importantly) thought-provoking.
  3. added 2018-12-19
    James Marcum, Thomas Kuhn's Revolutions.Vasso Kindi - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
  4. added 2018-12-19
    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 (...)
  5. added 2018-12-19
    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.
  6. added 2018-12-19
    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 (...)
  7. added 2018-12-19
    Some Contemporary Discussions About the Rationality of Science.Aleksandar V. Gordić - 1992 - Theoria 35 (2):77-93.
  8. added 2018-12-19
    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.
  9. added 2018-12-19
    Scientific Controversies Case Studies in the Resolution and Closure of Disputes in Science and Technology.H. Tristram Engelhardt & Arthur L. Caplan - 1987
  10. added 2018-12-19
    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. added 2018-12-19
    Book Review:The Structure of Scientific Theories Frederick R. Suppe. [REVIEW]C. A. Hooker - 1975 - Philosophy of Science 42 (1):107-.
  12. added 2018-12-19
    A Heuristic Model for the Growth Process of Modern Physical Science.Gerald Holton - 1955 - Synthese 10 (1):190 - 202.
  13. added 2018-12-01
    Kuhn's Legacy: Epistemology, Metaphilosophy, and Pragmatism. [REVIEW]Howard Sankey - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (4):532-535.
    This is a book review of Bojana Mladenovic, Kuhn's Legacy: Epistemology, Metaphilosophy, and Pragmatism .
  14. added 2018-11-05
    What is the Point of Reduction in Science?Karen Crowther - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-24.
    The numerous and diverse roles of theory reduction in science have been insufficiently explored in the philosophy literature on reduction. Part of the reason for this has been a lack of attention paid to reduction2 (successional reduction)---although I here argue that this sense of reduction is closer to reduction1 (explanatory reduction) than is commonly recognised, and I use an account of reduction that is neutral between the two. This paper draws attention to the utility---and incredible versatility---of theory reduction. A non-exhaustive (...)
  15. added 2018-09-26
    Defining a Crisis: The Roles of Principles in the Search for a Theory of Quantum Gravity.Karen Crowther - forthcoming - Synthese:1-28.
    In times of crisis, when current theories are revealed as inadequate to task, and new physics is thought to be required---physics turns to re-evaluate its principles, and to seek new ones. This paper explores the various types, and roles of principles that feature in the problem of quantum gravity as a current crisis in physics. I illustrate the diversity of the principles being appealed to, and show that principles serve in a variety of roles in all stages of the crisis, (...)
  16. added 2018-09-22
    Einstein's Revolution: A Study in Theory Unification.Rinat M. Nugayev - 2018 - Sharjah, UAE: Bentham science publishers.
    Press release. -/- The ebook entitled, Einstein’s Revolution: A Study of Theory-Unification, gives students of physics and philosophy, and general readers, an epistemological insight into the genesis of Einstein’s special relativity and its further unification with other theories, that ended well by the construction of general relativity. The book was developed by Rinat Nugayev who graduated from Kazan State University relativity department and got his M.Sci at Moscow State University department of philosophy of science and Ph.D at Moscow Institute of (...)
  17. 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 (...)
  18. 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 (...)
  19. added 2018-07-29
    Mehr Seinsschichten Für Die Welt? Vergleich Und Kritik der Schichtenkonzeptionen von Nicolai Hartmann Und Werner Heisenberg.Gregor Schiemann - 2012 - In M. Wunsch & G. Hartung (eds.), Nicolai Hartmann – Von der Systemphilosophie zur Systemetischen Philosophie.
    Ich thematisiere die beiden Konzeptionen als Varianten der wissenschaftlichen Weltsicht. Der Reiz des Vergleichs liegt aber weniger in den Gemeinsamkeiten als vielmehr in den Differenzen und den dabei hervortretenden Desideraten der beiden Konzeptionen. Heisenberg versteht sein Schichtenmodell nicht wie Hartmann als Fortsetzung und Zusammenfassung vorangehender philosophischer Bemühungen, sondern als einen Bruch mit den Hauptströmungen der philosophischen Tradition. In der geschichtlichen Entwicklung der Versuche um eine Bestimmung der Weltstruktur sieht er statt einer Generaltendenz, die langfristig auf eine Annäherung an die Wahrheit (...)
  20. 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 (...)
  21. added 2018-06-24
    Robert J. Richards and Lorraine Daston, Eds. Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions at Fifty: Reflections on a Science Classic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. Pp. 202. $25.00. [REVIEW]Christian Damböck - 2017 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 7 (1):154-156.
  22. added 2018-06-20
    Bridging a Fault Line: On Underdetermination and the Ampliative Adequacy of Competing Theories.Guy Axtell - 2014 - In Editor Abrol Fairweather (ed.), Virtue Epistemology Naturalized. Synthese Library. pp. 227-245.
    This paper pursues Ernan McMullin‘s claim ("Virtues of a Good Theory" and related papers on theory-choice) that talk of theory virtues exposes a fault-line in philosophy of science separating "very different visions" of scientific theorizing. It argues that connections between theory virtues and virtue epistemology are substantive rather than ornamental, since both address underdetermination problems in science, helping us to understand the objectivity of theory choice and more specifically what I term the ampliative adequacy of scientific theories. The paper argues (...)
  23. 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 (...)
  24. added 2018-06-06
    Die Kuhn'sche Wende.Paul Hoyningen Huene & Simon Lohse - 2012 - In S. Maasen, M. Kaiser, M. Reinhart & B. Sutter (eds.), Handbuch Wissenschaftssoziologie. Wiesbaden, Deutschland: Springer. pp. 73-84.
  25. added 2018-05-18
    Scientific Progress: Four Accounts.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (11):e12525.
    Scientists are constantly making observations, carrying out experiments, and analyzing empirical data. Meanwhile, scientific theories are routinely being adopted, revised, discarded, and replaced. But when are such changes to the content of science improvements on what came before? This is the question of scientific progress. One answer is that progress occurs when scientific theories ‘get closer to the truth’, i.e. increase their degree of truthlikeness. A second answer is that progress consists in increasing theories’ effectiveness for solving scientific problems. A (...)
  26. added 2018-05-13
    Specialisation, Interdisciplinarity, and Incommensurability.Vincenzo Politi - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3):301-317.
    Incommensurability may be regarded as driving specialisation, on the one hand, and as posing some problems to interdisciplinarity, on the other hand. It may be argued, however, that incommensurability plays no role in either specialisation or interdisciplinarity. Scientific specialties could be defined as simply 'different' (that is, about different things), rather than 'incommensurable' (that is, competing for the explanation of the same phenomena). Interdisciplinarity could be viewed as the co- ordinated effort of scientists possessing complemetary and interlocking skills, and not (...)
  27. added 2018-04-17
    Rational Endorsement.Will Fleisher - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2649-2675.
    It is valuable for inquiry to have researchers who are committed advocates of their own theories. However, in light of pervasive disagreement, such a commitment is not well explained by the idea that researchers believe their theories. Instead, this commitment, the rational attitude to take toward one’s favored theory during the course of inquiry, is what I call endorsement. Endorsement is a doxastic attitude, but one which is governed by a different type of epistemic rationality. This inclusive epistemic rationality is (...)
  28. added 2018-04-09
    The Pessimistic Induction and the Golden Rule.Seungbae Park - 2018 - Problemos 93:70-80.
    Nickles (2017) advocates scientific antirealism by appealing to the pessimistic induction over scientific theories, the illusion hypothesis (Quoidbach, Gilbert, and Wilson, 2013), and Darwin’s evolutionary theory. He rejects Putnam’s (1975: 73) no-miracles argument on the grounds that it uses inference to the best explanation. I object that both the illusion hypothesis and evolutionary theory clash with the pessimistic induction and with his negative attitude towards inference to the best explanation. I also argue that Nickles’s positive philosophical theories are subject to (...)
  29. added 2018-03-26
    Exemplarising the Origin of Genetics: A Path to Genetics (From Mendel to Bateson).Yafeng Shan - 2016 - Dissertation, University College London
    This thesis aims to propose and defend a new way of analysing and understanding the origin of genetics (from Mendel to Bateson). Traditionally philosophers used to analyse the history of genetics in terms of theories. However, I will argue that this theory-based approach is highly problematic. In Chapter 1, I shall critically review the theory-driven approach to analysisng the history of genetics and diagnose its problems. In Chapter 2, inspired by Kuhn’s concept “exemplar”, I shall make a new interpretation of (...)
  30. added 2018-02-23
    Against Selective Realism.Dana Tulodziecki - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):996-1007.
    It has recently been suggested that realist responses to historical cases featured in pessimistic meta-inductions are not as successful as previously thought. In response, selective realists have updated the basic divide et impera strategy specifically to take such cases into account and to argue that more modern realist accounts are immune to the historical challenge. Using a case study—that of the nineteenth-century zymotic theory of disease—I argue that these updated proposals fail and that even the most sophisticated recent realist accounts (...)
  31. added 2018-02-23
    Abandoning the Realism Debate: Lessons From the Zymotic Theory of Disease.Dana Tulodziecki - 2017 - In Michela Massimi, Jan-Willem Romeijn & G. Schurz (eds.), EPSA 15 Selected Papers, European Studies in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 5. Springer. pp. 61--69.
  32. added 2018-02-23
    From Zymes to Germs: Discarding the Realist/Anti-Realist Framework.Dana Tulodziecki - 2016 - In Raphael Scholl & Tilman Sauer (eds.), The Philosophy of Historical Case Studies. Springer. pp. 265--284.
  33. added 2018-02-23
    Shattering the Myth of Semmelweis.Dana Tulodziecki - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):1065-1075.
    The case of Semmelweis has been well known since Hempel. More recently, it has been revived by Peter Lipton, Donald Gillies, Alexander Bird, Alex Broadbent, and Raphael Scholl. While these accounts differ on what exactly the case of Semmelweis shows, they all agree that Semmelweis was an excellent reasoner. This widespread agreement has also given rise to a puzzle: why Semmelweis’s views were rejected for so long. I aim to dissolve both this puzzle and the standard view of Semmelweis by (...)
  34. added 2018-02-17
    The Silence of the Norms: The Missing Historiography of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Paul A. Roth - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):545-552.
    History has been disparaged since the late 19th century for not conforming to norms of scientific explanation. Nonetheless, as a matter of fact a work of history upends the regnant philosophical conception of science in the second part of the 20th century. Yet despite its impact, Kuhn’s Structure has failed to motivate philosophers to ponder why works of history should be capable of exerting rational influence on an understanding of philosophy of science. But all this constitutes a great irony and (...)
  35. added 2018-02-17
    Being Moved by a Way the World is Not.Ward E. Jones - 2011 - Synthese 178 (1):131-141.
    At the end of Lecture 3 of The Empirical Stance, Bas van Fraassen suggests that we see the change of view involved in scientific revolutions as being, at least in part, emotional. In this paper, I explore one plausible way of cashing out this suggestion. Someone's emotional approval of a description of the world, I argue, thereby shows that she takes herself to have reason to take that description seriously. This is true even if she is convinced— as a scientific (...)
  36. added 2018-02-17
    Empiricism, Scientific Change and Mathematical Change.Otávio Bueno - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (2):269-296.
    The aim of this paper is to provide a unified account of scientific and mathematical change in a thoroughly empiricist setting. After providing a formal modelling in terms of embedding, and criticising it for being too restrictive, a second modelling is advanced. It generalises the first, providing a more open-ended pattern of theory development, and is articulated in terms of da Costa and French's partial structures approach. The crucial component of scientific and mathematical change is spelled out in terms of (...)
  37. added 2018-02-16
    A Place for Pragmatism in the Dynamics of Reason?Thomas Mormann - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):27-37.
    Abstract. In Dynamics of Reason Michael Friedman proposes a kind of synthesis between the neokantianism of Ernst Cassirer, the logical empiricism of Rudolf Carnap, and the historicism of Thomas Kuhn. Cassirer and Carnap are to take care of the Kantian legacy of modern philosophy of science, encapsulated in the concept of a relativized a priori and the globally rational or continuous evolution of scientific knowledge,while Kuhn´s role is to ensure that the historicist character of scientific knowledge is taken seriously. More (...)
  38. 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 (...)
  39. added 2017-10-22
    The Concept of Intelligibility in Modern Physics.Paul K. Feyerabend - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 57:64-66.
  40. added 2017-10-19
    Henri Poincaré, ciência e materialismo: o papel das hipóteses na oscilação entre atomismo e continuísmo.Andre Carli Philot & Antonio A. P. Videira - 2013 - Kairos: Revista de Filosofia and Ciência 7:167-186.
    This article was produced as an introduction to a Portuguese translation of an article by Henri Poincaré titled "The new conceptions of matter". The aim of this introduction was to shortly summarize Poincaré's scientific and philosophical production, to approach the circumstances on which the text was originally presented and, finally, to analyze the relationship - or the lack of it - that Poincaré establishes between science and materialism.
  41. added 2017-09-04
    A New Philosophy of Science From the History of Arcane Natural Science. [REVIEW]K. Wray - 2017 - Foundations of Chemistry 19 (3):281-285.
    This is a book review of Eric Scerri's book, A Tale of Seven Scientists.
  42. added 2017-09-04
    Bibliography of Structuralism III.Cláudio Abreu, Pablo Lorenzano & Ulises Moulines - 2013 - Metatheoria 3 (2):01-36.
    In two occasions a Bibliography of Structuralism has been published in Erkenntnis (1989, 1994). Since then a lot of water has flowed under the bridge and the structuralist program has shown a continuous development. The aim of the present bibliography is to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the publication of An Architectonic for Science –structuralism’s main reference work– and of its recent translation into Spanish by updating the previous bibliographies with titles which have appeared since 1994 as well as before (...)
  43. added 2017-09-03
    Models of Intelligibility in Galileo's Mechanical Science.David Marshall Miller - 2017 - In Marcus Adams, Zvi Biener, Uljana Feest & Jaqueline Sullivan (eds.), Eppur Si Muove: Doing History and Philosophy of Science with Peter Machamer, A Collection of Essays in Honor of Peter Machamer. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 39-54.
    Based on an examination of Galileo’s mechanics, Peter Machamer and Andrea Woody (and Machamer alone in subsequent articles) proposed the scientific use of what they call models of intelligibility. As they define it, a model of intelligibility (MOI) is a concrete phenomenon that guides scientific understanding of problematic cases. This paper extends Machamer and Woody’s analysis by elaborating the semantic function of MOIs. MOIs are physical embodiments of theoretical representations. Therefore, they eliminate the interpretive distance between theory and phenomena, creating (...)
  44. added 2017-08-16
    The Grand Pessimistic Induction.Seungbae Park - 2018 - Review of Contemporary Philosophy 17:7-19.
    After decades of intense debate over the old pessimistic induction (Laudan, 1977; Putnam, 1978), it has now become clear that it has at least the following four problems. First, it overlooks the fact that present theories are more successful than past theories. Second, it commits the fallacy of biased statistics. Third, it erroneously groups together past theories from different fields of science. Four, it misses the fact that some theoretical components of past theories were preserved. I argue that these four (...)
  45. added 2017-07-13
    Comparativist Philosophy of Science and Population Viability Assessment in Biology: Helping Resolve Scientific Controversy.Kristin Shrader‐Frechette - 2006 - Philosophy of Science 73 (5):817-828.
    Comparing alternative scientific theories obviously is relevant to theory assessment, but are comparativists (like Laudan) correct when they also make it necessary? This paper argues that they are not. Defining rationality solely in terms of theories' comparative problem-solving strengths, comparativist philosophers of science like Laudan subscribe to what I call the irrelevance claim (IC) and the necessity claim (NC). According to IC, a scientific theory's being well or poorly confirmed is "irrelevant" to its acceptance; NC is the claim that "all (...)
  46. added 2017-07-09
    The Rationality of Science in Relation to its History.Sherrilyn Roush - 2015 - In Alisa Bokulich & William J. Devlin (eds.), Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions - 50 Years On. Springer Verlag.
  47. 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 (...)
  48. added 2017-07-09
    Arthur Donovan, Larry Laudan, and Rachel Laudan: Scrutinizing Science: Empirical Studies of Scientific Change. [REVIEW]John Preston - 1994 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (4):1063.
  49. 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.
  50. added 2017-07-09
    Historicism and Scientific Practice IScrutinizing Science: Empirical Studies of Scientific ChangeArthur Donovan Larry Laudan Rachel Laudan.Thomas Nickles - 1989 - Isis 80 (4):665-669.
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