Taxonomic incommensurability


Authors
Howard Sankey
University of Melbourne
Abstract
In a shift of position that has gone largely unnoticed by the great majority of commentators, Thomas Kuhn's version of the incommensurability thesis underwent a major transformation over the last decade and a half of his life. In his later work, Kuhn argued that incommensurability is a relation of translation failure between local subsets of interdefined theoretical terms, which encapsulate the taxonomic structure of a theory. Incommensurability arises because it is impossible to transfer the natural categories employed within one taxonomic structure into the categorial system of another such structure. Apparently on the basis of such taxonomic incommensurability, Kuhn asserted a number of antirealist theses about truth, reference and reality. In this paper, it will be argued, however, that, far from leading to antirealist consequences about the relationship between theory and reality, the taxonomic incommensurability thesis may be incorporated unproblematically within a reasonably robust scientific realist framework.
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DOI 10.1080/02698599808573578
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 22 (3):287-297.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Philosophical Quarterly 14 (57):377-379.
The Road Since Structure.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1991 - In A. Fine, M. Forbes & L. Wessels (eds.), PSA 1990: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association. University of Chicago Press. pp. 3-13.
Metaphor in Science.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1979 - In A. Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge University Press. pp. 409-19.

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Citations of this work BETA

Kuhn’s Wrong Turning.Alexander Bird - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):443-463.
Specialisation, Interdisciplinarity, and Incommensurability.Vincenzo Politi - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3):301-317.
Indigenous and Scientific Kinds.David Ludwig - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1).

View all 25 citations / Add more citations

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Kuhn's Changing Concept of Incommensurability.Howard Sankey - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (4):759-774.
Implications of Incommensurability.Philip Kitcher - 1982 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:689 - 703.
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