Using Conceptual Spaces to Model the Dynamics of Empirical Theories

  • Peter GärdenforsEmail author
  • Frank Zenker
Part of the Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science book series (LEUS, volume 21)


In Conceptual Spaces (Gärdenfors 2000), dimensions and their relations provide a topological representation of a concept’s constituents and their mode of combination. When concepts are modeled as n-dimensional geometrical structures, conceptual change denotes the dynamic development of these structures. Following this basic assumption, we apply conceptual spaces to the dynamics of empirical theories. We show that the terms of the structuralist view of empirical theories can be largely recovered. Based on the logically possible change operations which a concept’s dimensions can undergo (singularly or in combination), we identify four types of (increasingly radical) change to an empirical theory. The incommensurability issue as well as the importance of measurement procedures for the identification of a radical theory change are briefly discussed.


Belief Revision Intended Application Theory Element Theory Change Conceptual Space 
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We would like to thank the organizer and the audience of the Science in Flux workshop at Lund University and, especially with respect to our exposition of structuralism, J. D. Sneed and C. U. Moulines for helpful comments and criticism. Frank Zenker acknowledges funding from the Swedish Institute (SI) and Peter Gärdenfors from the Swedish Research Council.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LundLundSweden

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