Communication, Rationality, and Conceptual Changes in Scientific Theories

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This article outlines how conceptual spaces theory applies to modeling changes of scientific frameworks when these are treated as spatial structures rather than as linguistic entities. The theory is briefly introduced and five types of changes are presented. It is then contrasted with Michael Friedman’s neo-Kantian account that seeks to render Kuhn’s “paradigm shift” as a communicatively rational historical event of conceptual development in the sciences. Like Friedman, we refer to the transition from Newtonian to relativistic mechanics as an example of “deep conceptual change.” But we take the communicative rationality of radical conceptual change to be available prior to the philosophical meta-paradigms that Friedman deems indispensable for this purpose.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplications of Conceptual Spaces
Subtitle of host publicationThe Case for Geometric Knowledge Representation
EditorsF. Zenker, P. Gärdenfors
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783319150215
ISBN (Print)9783319150208
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1
EventConceptual spaces at work, 2012 - Lund, Sweden
Duration: 2012 May 242012 May 26

Publication series

NameSynthese library. Studies in Epistemology, Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science


ConferenceConceptual spaces at work, 2012

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Learning
  • Philosophy


  • Incommensurability
  • Conceptual spaces
  • Revisable a priori
  • Neo-Kantianism
  • Scientific revolution
  • Persuasion
  • Theory change


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