A New Approach to the Incommensurability of Scientific Paradigms in T. Kuhn’s Theory

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Андрей Завалий

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The notion of incommensurability as applied to competing scientific theories was challenged on various grounds ever since the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Kuhn's critics argue that the notion of incommensurability is either incoherent (when interpreted as "untranslatability"), or false (when construed in terms of the impossibility of meaningful comparison between the paradigms). This paper challenges both interpretations. I attempt to show that the claim that scientific paradigms are incommensurable implies neither that the one cannot be translated into another's "language", nor that they cannot be compared to each other with regard to the scope of their respective applications, precision of predictions, or simplicity. However, it is argued that there is a sense in which one can claim that the incommensurable theories cannot be meaningfully compared, namely, when by "comparison" is meant "a comparison of theories with how the things really are".

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