As part of a project trying to unpack the epistemology of the market, I am reading through some overview texts on knowledge, philosophy of science, etc. Currently, I’m working through Zammito’s A Nice Derangement of Epistemes, which examines “post-positivism in the study of science from Quine to Latour”. In the chapter on Kuhn, Zammito mentions a bit about the origins of Kunh’s idea of “incommensurability“, the idea that scientific theories from different paradigms cannot be directly compared to see which is better. Here’s Zammito:
The thesis of incommensurability was enunciated simultaneously by Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, colleagues at the time at Berkeley, in 1962. It arose out of conversations between them, but it does not follow that it ever had synonymous meaning even for the two of them. Indeed, there are grounds for the suspicion that they never shared the same idea of incommensurability. (p. 61)
I love it! Two big-shot philosophers/historians/whatnot of science come up with a similar idea, both naming it incommensurability, about the difficulty of comparing different theories from different traditions, but cannot themselves agree upon the definition of the term! In this case, don’t you think that strengthens the idea rather than weakening it?