Scientific Cululativity and Conceptual Change: The Case of 'Temperature'

Abstract

I examine the historical development of the concept ``temperature'' from the point of view of questions about the stability of concepts during episodes of theory change. It is argued that the concept retains its identity and meaning through two quite radical developments in surrounding theory, even while these developments uncover novel fundamental characteristics of ``temperature'' and allow new associated definitions for the concept. I then indicate some of the differing underlying philosophical views which have caused others to view this kind of case very differently, and finally suggest a number of features that I think a theory of concepts would need to possess in order to account for the important aspects of the presented case-study.

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