Archives For Lydia Patton

Author Information: Vasso Kindi, University of Athens, Greece vkindi@phs.uoa.gr

Kindi, Vasso. “The Role of Evidence in Judging Kuhn’s Model: On the Mizrahi, Patton, Marcum Exchange .” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 11 (2015): 25-33.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2sQ

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I would like to thank James H. Collier, executive editor of Social Epistemology, for the invitation to contribute to the most interesting dialogue which has been occasioned by Moti Mizrahi’s paper “Kuhn’s Incommensurability Thesis: What’s the Argument?” My view is very different from the dominant one in the dialogue regarding Kuhn’s account of science as developed in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and in his later work.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Moti Mizrahi, Florida Institute of Technology, mmizrahi@fit.edu

Mizrahi, Moti. “A Reply to James Marcum’s ‘What’s the Support for Kuhn’s Incommensurability Thesis?’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 11 (2015): 21-24.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2sx

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Both Patton (2015) and Marcum (2015) think that there is compelling evidence for Kuhn’s incommensurability thesis, specifically, taxonomic incommensurability (TI). They disagree, however, about how the argument for TI is supposed to run. Patton (2015) claims that there is an Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) to be made for TI. In my response to Patton (2015), I argue that this is easier said than done (Mizrahi 2015b). Marcum (2015, 51), on the other hand, claims that the historian’s personal or psychological experience of accessing a revolutionary change in science—as illustrated in Kuhn’s own experience of laboring to understand the Aristotelian idea of motion while assuming a Newtonian idea of motion—represents a compelling type of support for TI.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Moti Mizrahi, Florida Institute of Technology, mmizrahi@fit.edu

Mizrahi, Moti. “A Reply to Patton’s ‘Incommensurability and the Bonfire of the Meta-Theories’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 10 (2015): 51-53.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2pY

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Lydia Patton (2015) and I agree that philosophers of science need to exercise more argumentative caution when it comes to the stories they tell about science. One such story, namely, Kuhn’s account of theory change (more specifically, his incommensurability thesis), lacks this kind of argumentative caution, or so I have argued (Mizrahi 2015). Patton (2015) disagrees. She claims that Kuhn does offer a good argument in support of taxonomic incommensurability (TI). Kuhn’s argument, however, is neither deductive nor inductive. According to Patton (2015, 57), Kuhn “was pursuing an explanatory, not an inductive project.” In other words, Patton argues that Kuhn’s argument for TI should be construed as an Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE). In a follow-up comment, Patton clarifies her claim by writing:  Continue Reading…

Author Information: James A. Marcum, Baylor University, James_Marcum@baylor.edu

Marcum, James A. “What’s the Support for Kuhn’s Incommensurability Thesis? A Response to Mizrahi and Patton.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 9 (2015): 51-62.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2iD

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Moti Mizrahi (2015) examines whether there are “good arguments” to support Kuhn’s taxonomic incommensurability (TI) thesis. He concludes that there is neither “valid deductive” nor “strong inductive” support for the thesis and that consequently TI should not be believed or accepted. In response, Lydia Patton (2015) claims that the most “influential” arguments within the history of science are abductive or inference to the best explanation (IBE) rather than deductive or inductive arguments. Continue Reading…

Author Information:Lydia Patton, Virginia Tech, critique@vt.edu

Patton, Lydia. “Incommensurability and the Bonfire of the Meta-Theories: Response to Mizrahi.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 7 (2015): 51-58.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2c6

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What is Taxonomic Incommensurability?

Moti Mizrahi states Kuhn’s thesis of taxonomic incommensurability (TI) as follows:

Periods of scientific change (in particular, revolutionary change) that exhibit TI are scientific developments in which existing concepts are replaced with new concepts that are incompatible with the older concepts. The new concepts are incompatible with the old concepts in the following sense: two competing scientific theories are conceptually incompatible (or incommensurable) just in case they do not share the same “lexical taxonomy.” A lexical taxonomy contains the structures and vocabulary that are used to state a theory (2015, 2).

Mizrahi cites Kuhn (2000) as a basis for this definition. There, and elsewhere, Kuhn repeatedly employs the metaphor of incommensurability from Greek geometry:  Continue Reading…