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. 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 2020-03-13
    Mr. Fit, Mr. Simplicity and Mr. Scope: From Social Choice to Theory Choice.Michael Morreau - 2013 - Erkenntnis 79 (Suppl 6):1253-1268.
    An analogue of Arrow’s theorem has been thought to limit the possibilities for multi-criterial theory choice. Here, an example drawn from Toy Science, a model of theories and choice criteria, suggests that it does not. Arrow’s assumption that domains are unrestricted is inappropriate in connection with theory choice in Toy Science. There are, however, variants of Arrow’s theorem that do not require an unrestricted domain. They require instead that domains are, in a technical sense, ‘rich’. Since there are rich domains (...)
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  4. 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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  5. added 2020-02-29
    How to Overcome Antirealists’ Objections to Scientific Realism.Seungbae Park - 2020 - Axiomathes 30 (1):1-12.
    Van Fraassen contends that there is no argument that rationally compels us to disbelieve a successful theory, T. I object that this contention places upon him the burden of showing that scientific antirealists’ favorite arguments, such as the pessimistic induction, do not rationally compel us to disbelieve T. Van Fraassen uses the English view of rationality to rationally disbelieve T. I argue that realists can use it to rationally believe T, despite scientific antirealists’ favorite arguments against T.
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  6. added 2020-02-29
    The Absolute and Relative Pessimistic Inductions.Seungbae Park - 2019 - Problemos 95:94-104.
    The absolute pessimistic induction states that earlier theories, although successful, were abandoned, so current theories, although successful, will also be abandoned. By contrast, the relative pessimistic induction states that earlier theories, although superior to their predecessors, were discarded, so current theories, although superior to earlier theories, will also be discarded. Some pessimists would have us believe that the relative pessimistic induction avoids empirical progressivism. I argue, however, that it has the same problem as the absolute pessimistic induction, viz., either its (...)
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  7. added 2020-02-29
    Theodore Arabatzis, Representing Electrons: A Biographical Approach to Theoretical Entities, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, ISBN 0-226-02420-2 2005 (296 Pp., US$ 70.00, Cloth). [REVIEW]M. Macleod - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (1):226-229.
  8. added 2020-02-23
    The Virtues of a Good Theory.Ernan McMullin - 2008 - In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge.
  9. added 2020-02-23
    Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1977 - In The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change. University of Chicago Press. pp. 320--39.
  10. added 2020-02-11
    The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens. Gerald Holton. [REVIEW]George Gale - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (3):536-537.
  11. added 2020-02-11
    Theory Change, Ancient Axiomatics, and Galileo's Methodology. J. Hintikka, D. Gruender, E. Agazzi. [REVIEW]Edith Dudley Sylla - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (3):525-527.
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  12. added 2020-02-03
    Theory-Choice, Transient Diversity and the Efficiency of Scientific Inquiry.AnneMarie Borg, Daniel Frey, Dunja Šešelja & Christian Straßer - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):26.
    Recent studies of scientific interaction based on agent-based models suggest that a crucial factor conducive to efficient inquiry is what Zollman has dubbed ‘transient diversity’. It signifies a process in which a community engages in parallel exploration of rivaling theories lasting sufficiently long for the community to identify the best theory and to converge on it. But what exactly generates transient diversity? And is transient diversity a decisive factor when it comes to the efficiency of inquiry? In this paper we (...)
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  13. added 2020-02-03
    Theory-Choice, Transient Diversity and the Efficiency of Scientific Inquiry.AnneMarie Borg, Daniel Frey, Dunja Šešelja & Christian Straßer - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):26.
    Recent studies of scientific interaction based on agent-based models suggest that a crucial factor conducive to efficient inquiry is what Zollman has dubbed ‘transient diversity’. It signifies a process in which a community engages in parallel exploration of rivaling theories lasting sufficiently long for the community to identify the best theory and to converge on it. But what exactly generates transient diversity? And is transient diversity a decisive factor when it comes to the efficiency of inquiry? In this paper we (...)
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  14. added 2020-01-13
    Kuhn's Incommensurability Thesis: Good Examples Still to Be Found.Dusko Prelevic - 2019 - Filozofia Nauki (The Philosophy of Science) 27 (4):61-77.
    In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,Thomas Kuhn famously argued that scientific revolutions consist in paradigm shifts in which the superseded and the new paradigms are incommensurable. My aim in this paper is to show that neither Kuhn’s examples nor Yafeng Shan’s recently proposed example adequately support this incommensurability thesis. Starting from the distinction between global and local incommensurability, I argue that, on the one hand, local incommensurability does not imply that paradigms are globally incommensurable, and, on the other, that it (...)
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  15. 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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  16. added 2019-12-21
    Scientificity and The Law of Theory Demarcation.Ameer Sarwar & Patrick Fraser - 2018 - Scientonomy: Journal for the Science of Science 2:55-66.
    The demarcation between science and non-science seems to play an important role in the process of scientific change, as theories regularly transition from being considered scientific to being considered unscientific and vice versa. However, theoretical scientonomy is yet to shed light on this process. The goal of this paper is to tackle the problem of demarcation from the scientonomic perspective. Specifically, we introduce scientificity as a distinct epistemic stance that an agent can take towards a theory. We contend that changes (...)
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  17. added 2019-10-23
    Between History and Philosophy of Science: The Relationship Between Kuhn’s Black-Body Theory and Structure.Adam Timmins - 2019 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9 (2):371-387.
  18. added 2019-09-26
    Fallibilism, Naturalism and the Traditional Requirements for Knowledge.David Stump - 1991 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 22 (3):451-469.
    In april 1872, with the caisson at a depth of seventy-odd feet and still no bedrock, two men died. The strain for Roebling was nearly unbearable, as his wife later said. On May 18, a third man died, and that same day Roebling made the most difficult and courageous decision of the project. Staking everything — the success of the bridge, his reputation, his career - he ordered a halt. The New York tower, he had concluded, could stand where it (...)
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  19. added 2019-09-24
    Rationality, Relativism and Methodological Pluralism.Howard Sankey - 1996 - Explorations in Knowledge (1):18-36.
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  20. added 2019-09-24
    Judgement and Rational Theory-Choice.Howard Sankey - 1994 - Methodology and Science 27 (3):167-182.
    It is argued that in the absence of an algorithm of theory-choice, a role must be played by deliberative judgement in the process of choosing rationally between theories.
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  21. added 2019-09-20
    Kuhn, Coherentism and Perception.Howard Sankey - forthcoming - In Pablo Melogno, Hernán Miguel & Leandro Giri (eds.), Perspectives On Kuhn.
    The paper takes off from the suggestion of Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen that Kuhn’s account of science may be understood in coherentist terms. There are coherentist themes in Kuhn’s philosophy of science. But one crucial element is lacking. Kuhn does not deny the existence of basic beliefs which have a non-doxastic source of justification. Nor does he assert that epistemic justification only derives from inferential relationships between non-basic beliefs. Despite this, the coherentist interpretation is promising and I develop it further in this (...)
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  22. added 2019-09-20
    In Defense of Realism and Selectivism From Lyons’s Objections.Seungbae Park - 2019 - Foundations of Science 24 (4):605-615.
    Lyons (2016, 2017, 2018) formulates Laudan’s (1981) historical objection to scientific realism as a modus tollens. I present a better formulation of Laudan’s objection, and then argue that Lyons’s formulation is supererogatory. Lyons rejects scientific realism (Putnam, 1975) on the grounds that some successful past theories were (completely) false. I reply that scientific realism is not the categorical hypothesis that all successful scientific theories are (approximately) true, but rather the statistical hypothesis that most successful scientific theories are (approximately) true. Lyons (...)
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  23. added 2019-09-20
    A Trip to Mount Everest: Looking for the Laws of Scientific Change: Hakob Barseghyan: The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer, 2015, 275pp, $51.75 HB.Lee McIntyre - 2016 - Metascience 25 (2):289-292.
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  24. added 2019-09-20
    Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Invention?Elie Zahar - 1983 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 34 (3):243-261.
  25. added 2019-09-20
    The Structure of Scientific Theories. Frederick Suppe. [REVIEW]Frank Pecchioni - 1976 - Isis 67 (1):114-116.
  26. added 2019-09-20
    Correspondence, Invariance and Heuristics: In Praise of Conservative Induction.H. R. Post - 1971 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 2 (3):213.
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  27. added 2019-09-04
    Lakatos's Idea of Scientific Research Programs.Howard Sankey - 1998 - In Gregory A. Good (ed.), Sciences of the Earth: An encyclopedia of Events, People and Phenomena, Volume 2. New York: Garland. pp. 499-502.
    Introductory discussion of Lakatos's idea of scientific research programmes, and an application to the case-study of continental drift.
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  28. added 2019-07-21
    A New Task for Philosophy of Science.Nicholas Maxwell - 2019 - Metaphilosophy 50 (3):316-338.
    This paper argues that philosophers of science have before them an important new task that they urgently need to take up. It is to convince the scientific community to adopt and implement a new philosophy of science that does better justice to the deeply problematic basic intellectual aims of science than that which we have at present. Problematic aims evolve with evolving knowledge, that part of philosophy of science concerned with aims and methods thus becoming an integral part of science (...)
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  29. added 2019-07-15
    Por Que as Revoluções Científicas Não Destroem os Objetos Técnicos?Daniel Durante Pereira Alves - 2013 - Filosofia Contemporânea: Lógica, Linguagem E Ciência.
    Parece um fato bastante trivial que quando uma teoria científica se torna obsoleta, por ter sido substituída por outra, isto não tem nenhuma consequência para os objetos técnicos compatíveis com a teoria antiga. Pretendo, neste ensaio, responder à questão bem menos óbvia de por que isto se dá. Como subproduto, apresento uma defesa da teoria da ciência de Thomas Kuhn. Para tanto, inicio mostrando como a teoria de Kuhn foi motivada por considerações sobre a história da ciência. Em seguida, defendo (...)
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  30. added 2019-06-18
    A New Functional Approach to Scientific Progress.Yafeng Shan - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (4):739-758.
    This article develops and defends a new functional approach to scientific progress. I begin with a review of the problems of the traditional functional approach. Then I propose a new functional account of scientific progress, in which scientific progress is defined in terms of usefulness of problem defining and problem solving. I illustrate and defend my account by applying it to the history of genetics. Finally, I highlight the advantages of my new functional approach over the epistemic and semantic approaches (...)
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  31. added 2019-06-17
    Paradigms.Daniel Goldman Cedarbaum - 1983 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 14 (3):173.
  32. added 2019-06-06
    The Cognition Dimension of Theory Change in Kuhn’s Philosophy of Science.K. Brad Wray - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (3):610-613.
    This is an essay review of Andersen, Barker and Chen's The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
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  33. added 2019-06-06
    Bird, Kuhn and Positivism.John Miles Preston - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (2):327-335.
    I challenge Alexander Bird’s contention that the divergence between Kuhn’s views and recent philosophy of science is a matter of Kuhn having taken a wrong turn. Bird is right to remind us of Kuhn’s naturalistic tendencies, but these are not clearly an asset, rather than a liability. Kuhn was right to steer clear of extreme referential conceptions of meaning, since these court an unacceptable semantic scepticism. Although he eschewed the concepts of truth and knowledge as philosophers of science have tended (...)
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  34. added 2019-06-06
    Dynamics Of Theory Change In Chemistry: Part 2. Benzene and Molecular Orbitals, 1945–1980.Stephen G. Brush - 1999 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 30 (2):263-302.
  35. added 2019-06-06
    Dynamics of Theory Change in Chemistry: Part 1. The Benzene Problem 1865–1945.Stephen G. Brush - 1999 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 30 (1):21-79.
    A selective history of the benzene problem is presented, starting with August Kekulé's proposal of a hexagonal structure in 1865 and his hypothesis of 1872 that the carbon–carbon bonds oscillate between single and double. Only those theories are included that were accepted or at least discussed by a significant number of chemists. Special attention is given to predictions, their empirical tests, and the effect of the outcomes of those tests on the reception of the theories. At the end of the (...)
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  36. added 2019-06-06
    The Advancement of Science: Science Without Legend, Objectivity Without Illusions. [REVIEW]Patrick Enfield - 1996 - Cogito 10 (2):158-159.
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  37. added 2019-06-06
    ‘Revolution in Permanence’: Popper on Theory-Change in Science.John Worrall - 1995 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 39:75-102.
    Science, and in particular the process of theory-change in science, formed the major inspiration for Karl Popper's whole philosophy. Popper learned about the success of Einstein's revolutionary new theory in 1919, and Einstein ‘became a dominant influence on my thinking—in the long run perhaps the most important influence of all.’ Popper explained why: In May, 1919, Einstein's eclipse predictions were successfully tested by two British expeditions. With these tests a new theory of gravitation and a new cosmology suddenly appeared, not (...)
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  38. added 2019-06-06
    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.
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  39. added 2019-06-06
    A Philosophical Study Of The Transition From The Caloric Theory Of Heat To Thermodynamics: Resisting the Pessimistic Meta-Induction.Stathis Psillos - 1994 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 25 (2):159-190.
    I began this study with Laudan's argument from the pessimistic induction and I promised to show that the caloric theory of heat cannot be used to support the premisses of the meta-induction on past scientific theories. I tried to show that the laws of experimental calorimetry, adiabatic change and Carnot's theory of the motive power of heat were independent of the assumption that heat is a material substance, approximately true, deducible and accounted for within thermodynamics.I stressed that results and were (...)
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  40. added 2019-06-06
    Scrutinizing Science: Empirical Studies of Scientific Change.Arthur Donovan, Larry Laudan & Rachel Laudan - 1994 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (4):1063-1065.
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  41. added 2019-06-06
    Review of Theory Change in Science: Strategies From Mendelian Genetics by Lindley Darden. [REVIEW]Bradley E. Wilson - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (1):153-155.
  42. 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.
  43. added 2019-06-06
    From Galen's Theory to William Harvey's Theory: A Case Study in the Rationality of Scientific Theory Change.Bryan Mowry - 1985 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 16 (1):49.
    The history of science is that of older theories being challenged and eventually being superseded by newer theories. The rationality of this process of scientific theory change is a central issue in contemporary philosophy of science. This paper aims to elucidate this topic by examining an episode in the history of medical science, namely the change from Galen's theory of the movement of the heart and blood to Harvey’s theory of the circulation of the blood. In Part I the historical (...)
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  44. added 2019-06-06
    Review of Thomas S. Kuhn The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change. [REVIEW]David Zaret - 1981 - Philosophical Review 90 (1):146.
    Review of T. S. Kuhn's The Essential Tension.
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  45. added 2019-06-05
    Why Pursue Unification? A Social-Epistemological Puzzle.Randall Harp & Kareem Khalifa - 2015 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 30 (3):431-447.
    Many have argued that unified theories ought to be pursued wherever possible. We deny this on the basis of social-epistemological and decision-theoretic considerations. Consequently, those seeking a more ubiquitous role for unification must either attend to the scientific community’s social structure in greater detail than has been the case, and/or radically revise their conception of unification.
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  46. 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.
  47. added 2019-06-05
    The Structure of Scientific Theories. Frederick R. Suppe.C. A. Hooker - 1975 - Philosophy of Science 42 (1):107-107.
  48. added 2019-05-13
    Sources of the Kuhnian ‘Revolution‘.Chris Norris - 2001 - Alethia 4 (2):23-35.
  49. added 2019-04-19
    Specialisation and the Incommensurability Among Scientific Specialties.Vincenzo Politi - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (1):129-144.
    In his mature writings, Kuhn describes the process of specialisation as driven by a form of incommensurability, defined as a conceptual/linguistic barrier which promotes and guarantees the insularity of specialties. In this paper, we reject the idea that the incommensurability among scientific specialties is a linguistic barrier. We argue that the problem with Kuhn’s characterisation of the incommensurability among specialties is that he presupposes a rather abstract theory of semantic incommensurability, which he then tries to apply to his description of (...)
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  50. added 2019-03-25
    On the Structuralist Approach to the Dynamics of Theories.Raimo Tuomela - 1978 - Synthese 39 (2):211 - 231.
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