Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Meaning change/semantic change: this is about the question whether the meaning of the terms of a theory change in the light of new knowledge. If they do, problems with incommensurability may arise. See also reference, incommensurability, progress, comparisons.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

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Hartry Field on Meaning Change - Dictionary of Arguments

II 173
Meaning Change/Meaning/Field: E.g. "has the same temperature" has changed - because one now knows that differently warm objects can feel equally warm - N.B.: "means that" cannot change. - It is empirically irrevidable.
Solution: "Temperature" is an explanatory term. - Meanings (also as intentional entities as "mere shadows") should not be interpreted as explanatory. - Then the attribution should be kept, no matter what discoveries we make. - On the other hand: meaning-characterization: is explanatory - namely causal.
II 177
Meaning change/Field: Thesis: with the change of theories the reference of scientific terms (TT) is indeterminate. - There is no fact that decides. - E.g.: For Newton, and in the Special Relativity Theory, "mass" had no definite denotation.
II 183
Theory change/meaning change/change of concept/Kuhn/Field: (Kuhn 1961, 101) Thesis: The referents of Einstein's terms are never identical with those of the Newtonian terms, which bear the same name. Newton's mass remains intact, Einstein's mass is convertible against energy.
FieldVsKuhn: that seems completely implausible, Einstein has shown that there is no "Newtonian mass" - Newton's concept meant something else, I do not deny that - but this does not apply to reference or denotation. - Today's terms refer to a subset of what the Newtonians referred to.
FieldVsKuhn: something like "Newton's mass" has never existed - so Newton himself can never have referred to it. - Problem: then the sentences are wrong.
Solution: E.g. "Acceleration needs more force when the mass is larger." - This is not completely lacking denotation. - The reference is simply indeterminate - ((s) Today only a subset of the speakers at the time make the sentence true.)
II 194
Meaning change/change of concept/theory change/Putnam: thesis: the reference usually survives in scientific revolutions.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Field I
H. Field
Realism, Mathematics and Modality Oxford New York 1989

Field II
H. Field
Truth and the Absence of Fact Oxford New York 2001

Field III
H. Field
Science without numbers Princeton New Jersey 1980

Field IV
Hartry Field
"Realism and Relativism", The Journal of Philosophy, 76 (1982), pp. 553-67
Theories of Truth, Paul Horwich, Aldershot 1994

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-04-17
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