From Features via Frames to Spaces: Modeling Scientific Conceptual Change Without Incommensurability or Aprioricity

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The (dynamic) frame model, originating in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology, has recently been applied to change-phenomena traditionally studied within history and philosophy of science. Its application purpose is to account for episodes of conceptual dynamics in the empirical sciences (allegedly) suggestive of incommensurability as evidenced by “ruptures” in the symbolic forms of historically successive empirical theories with similar classes of applications. This article reviews the frame model and traces its development from the feature list model. Drawing on extant literature, examples of frame-reconstructed taxonomic change are presented. This occurs for purposes of comparison with an alternative tool, conceptual spaces. The main claim is that conceptual spaces save the merits of the frame model and provide a powerful model for conceptual change in scientific knowledge, since distinctions arising in measurement theory are native to the model. It is suggested how incommensurability as incomparability of theoretical frameworks might be avoided (thus coming on par with a key-result of applying frames). Moreover, as non(inter-)translatability of worldviews, it need not to be treated as a genuine problem of conceptual representation. The status of laws vis à vis their dimensional bases as well as diachronic similarity measures are (inconclusively) discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrames and Concept Types: Applications in Language and Philosophy,
EditorsGamerschlag T., Gerland R., Osswald R., Petersen W.
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-01540-8
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy


  • Dimension
  • Measurement
  • Natural law
  • Scientific change
  • Symbolic representation


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