Saving incommensurability : semantic theory of meaning or semantic theory of science ?
Philosophia Scientiae, Volume 8 (2004) no. 1, pp. 97-105.

Carrier's paper is mainly a defence of incommensurability as “a sensible notion”, on the basis of the context theory of meaning. I shall here discuss his semantic reconstruction of the notion. His argument consists in exhibiting cases where incommensurability is instantiated thanks to a symmetrical proof of untranslatability, based on a distinction between two determinants of the meaning of a concept. I shall mainly show that a logical asymmetry in the distinction hinders the argument from achieving its goal. I shall then defend that a notion that plays a secondary role in Carrier's argument, i.e. “the set of situation to which a concept is properly applied”, should be placed at centre stage for the determination of the meaning of a concept and thence for the appraisal of the notion of incommensurability. I shall finally sketch an alternative reconstruction of the notion of incommensurability, based on the semantic view of science instead of the semantic theory of meaning.

L'article de Carrier a pour but principal de reconstruire la notion d'incommensurabilité sur la base de la théorie contextuelle de la signification. C'est cette reconstruction dite sémantique que je discuterai ici. La stratégie de Carrier consiste à exhiber deux cas d'incommensurabilité sur la base d'une preuve symétrique d'intraductibilité, elle-même fondée sur la distinction entre deux éléments déterminant la signification d'un concept. Je montrerai principalement que la symétrie de l'argument est fautive et que la distinction sur laquelle il est fondée ne tient pas. J'argumenterai ensuite en faveur de la revalorisation d'une notion qui joue un rôle secondaire dans l'argument de Carrier, savoir «l'ensemble des situations dans lesquelles le concept est correctement appliqué», tant pour la détermination de la signification d'un concept que pour l'évaluation de la notion d'incommensurabilité. Je tenterai d'ouvrir enfin une autre voie pour la reconstruction de l'incommensurabilité, fondée, non pas sur la théorie sémantique de la signification, mais sur la théorie sémantique des sciences.

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     title = {Saving incommensurability : semantic theory of meaning or semantic theory of science ?},
     journal = {Philosophia Scientiae},
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     publisher = {\'Editions Kim\'e},
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     url = {http://archive.numdam.org/item/PHSC_2004__8_1_97_0/}
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Le Bihan, Soazig. Saving incommensurability : semantic theory of meaning or semantic theory of science ?. Philosophia Scientiae, Volume 8 (2004) no. 1, pp. 97-105. http://archive.numdam.org/item/PHSC_2004__8_1_97_0/