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The Incommensurability of Scientific Theories

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[Revised entry by Eric Oberheim and Paul Hoyningen-Huene on September 4, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The term 'incommensurable' means 'to have no common measure'. The idea has its origins in Ancient Greek mathematics, where it meant no common measure between magnitudes. For example, there is no common measure between the lengths of the side and the diagonal of a square. Today, such incommensurable relations are represented by irrational numbers. The metaphorical application of this mathematical notion specifically to the relation between successive scientific theories became controversial in 1962 after it...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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