On the Incommensurability of Theories

  • Jaakko Hintikka
Part of the Jaakko Hintikka Selected Papers book series (HISP, volume 5)


The commensurability of two theories can be defined (relative to a given set of questions) as the ratio of the total information of their shared answers to the total information of the answers yielded by the two theories combined. Answers should be understood here as model consequences (in the sense of the author’s earlier papers), not deductive consequences. This definition is relative to a given model of the joint language of the theories, but can be generalized to sets of models. It turns out to capture also the idea of incommensurability as conceptual alienation. Incommensurability so defined does not imply incomparability.


Scientific Theory Conceptual Discrepancy Atomic Sentence Shared Consequence Interrogative Model 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaakko Hintikka
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston UniversityUSA

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