Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

Incommensurability: non-comparability. Expression by Thomas Kuhn (Th. Kuhn, The structure of scientific revolutions, 1962). Kuhn argues that scientific theories which are replaced in the course of time use terms which are altered in their meaning, and therefore make a comparison of, e.g. measurement results impossible and thus also a comparison of statements.
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I 353
Incommensurability/Feyerabend: E.g. principle: there is a habit of considering an object as given when the list of its parts is complete (archaic thinking). This habit is abolished (but without contradicting a principle) by the assumption that even the most complete list does not fully describe an object!
Therefore, incommensurability cannot be defined by recourse statements! Reason: If the habit is overruled, then the objects of world A are also overruled. The A-objects cannot be examined with a method of conjecture that knows no end.

I 354
Incommensurability/Feyerabend: from what has been said it becomes clear that the contents of A and B cannot be compared. Corresponding facts cannot be juxtaposed, not even mentally: if we imagine B-facts, then it means that principles are invalidated which were part of the construction of A-facts. We can only draw B-images of A-facts in B or make B-statements about A-facts in B. We cannot make A-statements about A-facts in B.
Translation/Feyerabend: it is also impossible to translate language A into language B. That does not mean that the two views could not be discussed, but the discussion cannot be based on logical relationships between the components of A and B.

I 355
Incommensurability/FeyerabendVsCritics: incommensurability does not apply to all competing theories, and it only applies to theories if they are interpreted in a certain way, for example, without reference to an "independent observation language"! This restriction was overlooked by most critics. I do not assert the incommensurability of all theories!
Only general and non-instance-dependent theories can be incommensurable, and those only if they are interpreted in a certain way. (The "non-instance-dependent" condition excludes "theories" like "All ravens are black").

I 358
Incommensurability/Feyerabend: nor are there any mixed statements between classical and relativistic formulations. Certain universal principles are used while they are simultaneously extinguished.
Incommensurability/Feyerabend: E.g. "Impetus" is suspended by Galileo and Newton and is therefore no longer a principle for the constitution of facts.

I 360
Incommensurability/Feyerabend: the question whether two theories are incommensurable is an incomplete question! Theories can be interpreted differently! According to one interpretation they are commensurable, according to another they are not!
I 361/362
For example, instrumentalism makes all theories related to the same observation language commensurable. Realism, on the other hand, would like to represent (and make it commensurable) the observable and the non-observable in the same way.
I 367
Incommensurability/Feyerabend: emerges only in the consideration of comprehensive cosmological theories! Limited theories rarely lead to conceptual revisions.
I 372
Incommensurability/Language/Feyerabend: we no longer say today that nature avoids the vacuum. Change of jargon, not of facts.
I 375
FeyerabendVsKuhn/Incommensurability: his ideas are more inclined towards psychology and suggest that any scientific change a) leads to a shift in sense and therefore b) to incommensurability.
Feyerabend: in my opinion, changes in the world of perception are to be determined by research, they are not self-evident.
Kuhn: An understanding between different paradigms is not possible.
FeyerabendVsKuhn: Scientists from different paradigms understand each other very well.

II 16
Incommensurability/Feyerabend: shows that a methodology of the increase in content or proximity to the truth does not fit everywhere in the sciences.

Fe I
P. Feyerabend
Wider den Methodenzwang Frankfurt 1997

P. Feyerabend
Erkenntnis für freie Menschen Frankfurt 1979

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-05-24