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Conceptual Revolutions - Paul Thagard

Conceptual Revolutions

Paperback Published: 3rd January 1993
ISBN: 9780691024905
Number Of Pages: 310

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In this path-breaking work, Paul Thagard draws on the history and philosophy of science, cognitive psychology, and the field of artificial intelligence to develop a theory of conceptual change capable of accounting for all major scientific revolutions. The history of science contains dramatic episodes of revolutionary change in which whole systems of concepts have been replaced by new systems. Thagard provides a new and comprehensive perspective on the transformation of scientific conceptual systems.

Thagard examines the Copernican and the Darwinian revolutions and the emergence of Newton's mechanics, Lavoisier's oxygen theory, Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum theory, and the geological theory of plate tectonics. He discusses the psychological mechanisms by which new concepts and links between them are formed, and advances a computational theory of explanatory coherence to show how new theories can be judged to be superior to previous ones.

Industry Reviews

Winner of the 1993 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in the History of Science, Association of American Publishers "Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) familiarised a wide public with the idea of revolutions as the inevitable result of the development of 'normal science.' It also made them seem irrational, the outcome of processes which were compared to Gestalt-switches and religious conversions. Thagard seeks to reinstall reason at the core of science."--P. M. Rattansi, The Times Higher Education Supplement

List of Figures
List of Tables
The Problem of Revolutionary Conceptual Changep. 3
The importance of conceptual changep. 3
Are there scientific revolutions?p. 5
Theses on conceptual revolutionsp. 6
Overviewp. 9
Summaryp. 11
Appendix: Chronology of revolutionsp. 11
Concepts and Conceptual Systemsp. 13
Philosophical theories of conceptsp. 13
Belief revision versus conceptual changep. 19
What are concepts for?p. 21
What are concepts?p. 24
Concepts as complex structuresp. 28
Conceptual hierarchiesp. 30
Summaryp. 33
Conceptual Changep. 34
Degrees of conceptual changep. 34
The chemical revolutionp. 39
Stahl's phlogiston theoryp. 40
Lavoisier, 1772p. 42
Lavoisier, 1774p. 43
Lavoisier, 1777p. 44
Lavoisier's mature theory: the 1780sp. 46
Toward a theory of conceptual changep. 47
Development of conceptual systems by discoveryp. 50
Conceptual combinationp. 51
Generalization and abductionp. 52
Special heuristicsp. 54
Replacement by discoveryp. 55
Development and replacement by instructionp. 58
Summaryp. 61
Explanatory Coherencep. 62
A theory of explanatory coherencep. 63
Coherencep. 64
Principles of explanatory coherencep. 65
Discussion of the principlesp. 66
ECHO, a computational model of theory evaluationp. 70
Connectionist modelsp. 70
ECHO, the programp. 71
Explanatory breadthp. 74
Being explainedp. 75
Refutationp. 76
Unificationp. 76
Simplicityp. 77
Analogyp. 78
Evidence and acceptabilityp. 79
Parametersp. 80
Application of ECHO to the chemical revolutionp. 82
Objections and repliesp. 89
Summaryp. 97
Appendix: Technical details of ECHOp. 98
Algorithmsp. 98
Sensitivityp. 100
Theory Dynamics, Rationality, and Explanationp. 103
Dynamic relations of theoriesp. 104
Theory replacementp. 104
The relation between the oxygen and phlogiston theoriesp. 106
Impediments to rationalityp. 108
Conversion and motivated inferencep. 109
Sociological explanationsp. 111
Translationp. 113
Philosophical and computational models of explanationp. 118
Strands of explanationp. 118
Toward an integrated cognitive model of explanationp. 127
Summaryp. 130
The Darwinian Revolutionp. 131
The development of Darwin's theoryp. 131
Conceptual change in evolutionary theoryp. 135
Addition and deletion of conceptsp. 135
New kind-relationsp. 136
Hierarchy reinterpretationp. 137
The explanatory coherence of Darwin's theoryp. 139
Darwin versus the creation hypothesisp. 139
ECHO analysis of Darwinp. 140
Relation of Darwin's theory to its predecessorp. 148
Other interpretations of Darwin's argumentp. 149
The reception of Darwin's argumentp. 151
Other revolutions in biology?p. 152
Conceptual evolution?p. 154
Summaryp. 156
The Geological Revolutionp. 157
The conceptual development of plate tectonicsp. 157
Historical sketchp. 157
The discovery of continental driftp. 158
Changes in conceptual structurep. 160
Hierarchy transformationp. 160
Wegener's conceptsp. 161
Concepts of Wegener's opponentsp. 164
Concepts of Hess and plate tectonicsp. 166
Evaluating theories of continental drift and plate tectonicsp. 171
The coherence of continental driftp. 171
The rejection of continental driftp. 176
The acceptance of plate tectonicsp. 179
Summaryp. 182
Appendixp. 183
Revolutions in Physicsp. 191
Copernicusp. 191
Aristotlep. 192
Ptolemyp. 193
The development of Copernicus's theoryp. 195
Conceptual change in Copernicusp. 196
The explanatory coherence of Copernicus's theoryp. 197
Newtonp. 199
Newton's conceptual changesp. 200
The explanatory coherence of Newtonian mechanicsp. 203
Einsteinp. 206
The development of relativity theoryp. 206
Conceptual change in relativity theoryp. 209
The explanatory coherence of relativity theoryp. 211
Quantum theoryp. 215
The development of quantum theoryp. 215
Conceptual change in quantum theoryp. 219
The explanatory coherence of quantum theoryp. 221
Forces, quarks, and superstringsp. 222
Summaryp. 223
Revolutions in Psychology?p. 225
Approaches, framework, and theoriesp. 225
Behaviorismp. 227
The development of behaviorismp. 227
Behaviorism and conceptual changep. 230
Behaviorism and explanatory coherencep. 231
Cognitivismp. 233
The development of cognitivismp. 233
Cognitivism and conceptual changep. 236
Cognitivism and explanatory coherencep. 239
Connectionismp. 240
Other developmentsp. 244
Summaryp. 245
Conceptual Change in Scientists and Childrenp. 246
Comparative summary of scientific revolutionsp. 247
Discovery and conceptual changep. 247
Explanatory coherencep. 248
Revolutions and scientific knowledgep. 250
Conceptual change in childrenp. 251
Are children like scientists?p. 251
Changes in children's conceptsp. 252
Children's theoriesp. 256
The growth of knowledge in children and scientistsp. 259
Projects for understanding sciencep. 260
Children and educationp. 261
Scientific knowledgep. 261
Summaryp. 262
Referencesp. 265
Indexp. 279
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691024905
ISBN-10: 0691024901
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 310
Published: 3rd January 1993
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 15.88 x 23.5  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.36