Incommensurability and laboratory science
Philosophia Scientiae, Volume 8 (2004) no. 1, pp. 235-267.

The aim of the article is to establish relations between Kuhn's general characterization of incommensurability as the impossibility to translate the taxonomies pertaining to rival scientific theories into one another and Hacking's more specific version of incommensurability affecting competing theories that have stabilized relatively to different laboratory equipments and measurement techniques. On the basis of an analysis of the nature of scientific taxonomies that takes its inspiration from the works of Duhem, it will be argued that Kuhn's language-based approach is inadequate to provide an account of the way scientific terms apply to nature in the domain of physical laboratory science, in which the role of measurement procedures is essential. The analysis will be carried out by introducing the notion of dual taxonomy and the notion of ostensive character of a theory. It will result that, once these two notions are taken into account, it becomes possible to lay the foundations of an enlarged taxonomic version of incommensurability which can provide a common framework for the discussion of the examples introduced by Kuhn and Hacking.

Le but de l'article est d'établir des relations entre, d'une part, la caractérisation générale kuhnienne de l'incommensurabilité comme impossibilité de traduire l'une dans l'autre les taxinomies de théories scientifiques rivales et, d'autre part, la version plus spécifique de l'incommensurabilité proposée par Hacking, laquelle porte sur des théories concurrentes s'étant stabilisées en relation à des équipements de laboratoire et des techniques de mesure différents. Sur la base d'une analyse, inspirée des travaux de Duhem, de la nature des taxinomies scientifiques, on soutiendra que l'approche linguistique kuhnienne est inadéquate pour rendre compte de la manière dont les termes scientifiques s'appliquent à la nature dans le domaine des sciences de laboratoire, au sein desquelles le rôle des opérations de mesure est essentiel. L'analyse introduira la notion de taxinomie duale et celle de caractère ostensif d'une théorie. Il apparaîtra que, une fois ces deux notions prises en compte, il devient possible de poser les bases d'une version taxinomique élargie de l'incommensurabilité, susceptible de fournir un cadre commun pour la discussion des exemples introduits par Kuhn et Hacking.

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Trizio, Emiliano. Incommensurability and laboratory science. Philosophia Scientiae, Volume 8 (2004) no. 1, pp. 235-267. http://archive.numdam.org/item/PHSC_2004__8_1_235_0/

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