タイトル「THOMAS KUHN AND INCOMMENSURABILITY」
Jed Z. Buchwald
(Doris & Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA)
THOMAS KUHN AND INCOMMENSURABILITY
Incommensurability between successive scientific theories -- the impossibility of empirical evidence dictating the choice between them -- was Thomas Kuhn’s most controversial proposal. Toward defending it, he directed much effort over his last 30 years into formulating precise conditions under which two theories would be undeniably incommensurable with one another. His first step, in the late 1960s, was to argue that incommensurability must result when two theories involve incompatible taxonomies. The problem he then struggled with, never obtaining a solution that he found entirely satisfactory, was how to extend this initial line of thought to sciences like physics in which taxonomy is not so transparently dominant as it is, for example, in chemistry. We will reconsider incommensurability in the light of examples in which evidence historically did and did not carry over continuously from old laws and theories to new ones.
I will begin by reflecting on my introduction to the history of science as Kuhn’s research assistant from 1969-1971.