Kuhn's Theory Of Incommensurability

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The concept of incommensurability is presented in Kuhn 's early views as an impediment to the comparability of theories belonging to separate paradigms (Sankey 1993, p. 761). The logic behind this argument rests in the idea that incommensurability forbids translatability and that translatability between paradigms is necessary for comparability (Sankey 1993, p. 765). Logically it must follow that commensurability is necessary for comparability. To state the problem of comparability in Kuhn 's own words: "There is no algorithm of theory choice [...] which, properly applied, must lead each individual in the group to the same decision" (Sankey, 761).

I refute this claim by arguing that competing theories are often incommensurable yet
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The use of the term "fully" should also be noted; Kuhn 's notion does not require that none of the content be translatable, only that some of the meaning be inevitably lost in translation (Sankey, 766).

From this definition, it must follow logically that many theories must be incommensurable whenever a completely new concept is proposed. A new concept, by definition, does not exist and has no analogue in any previous taxonomy. To claim that completely new concepts can exist*, and that they can be expressed in terms of previous taxonomies involves a contradiction in terms. Therefore, it follows logically from this definition of incommensurability that incommensurable theories exist.

*I am making the assumption that completely new ideas do exist, however arguing this point would require another essay, relating to the progression of
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I believe that that equating comprehensibility and commensurability is a misconception perhaps perpetrated by Kuhn himself when he said that "The inevitable result [of incommensurability] is [...] a misunderstanding between the two competing schools." (sankey 761). I believe that this statement has been interpreted in too literal a linguistic sense to mean that incommensurable theories cannot be understood simultaneously. Comprehending a theory does not necessarily indicate commensurability if commensurability is defined to mean that there is a direct analogue for every concept of a new theory that can be expressed using the pre-existing taxonomy. Gaining an understanding of a completely novel concept with no reference taxonomy is possible; think of infants, gaining knowledge of the world completely de novo. For this reason, understanding a concept does not prove that it can be defined in terms of analogues from a previous taxonomy. Therefore, it cannot be concluded that all scientific theories are commensurable on the basis that they are simultaneously

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