Specialisation and the Incommensurability Among Scientific Specialties

  • Vincenzo Politi


In his mature writings, Kuhn describes the process of specialisation as driven by a form of incommensurability, defined as a conceptual/linguistic barrier which promotes and guarantees the insularity of specialties. In this paper, we reject the idea that the incommensurability among scientific specialties is a linguistic barrier. We argue that the problem with Kuhn’s characterisation of the incommensurability among specialties is that he presupposes a rather abstract theory of semantic incommensurability, which he then tries to apply to his description of the process of specialisation. By contrast, this paper follows a different strategy: after criticising Kuhn’s view, it takes a further look at how new scientific specialties emerge. As a result, a different way of understanding incommensurability among specialties will be proposed.


Specialisation Incommensurability Thomas Kuhn Scientific discovery 



This paper was written during a period of postdoctoral research at the Instituto de Investigaciones Filoso´ficas of UNAM (Mexico), under the supervision of Prof. Atocha Aliseda.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones FilosóficasMexicoMexico

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