Compatibility Criteria

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What is compatibility criteria? How should it be defined?

It is necessary to define compatibility criteria in order to understand the method of any scientific community. The definition of method suggests that it can consist of different criteria for theory assessment. The question is how compatibility criteria are different from other criteria of theory evaluation. Thus, it is a key concept in current Scientonomy.

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Hakob Barseghyan in 2015. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. Compatibility Criteria (Fraser-Sarwar-2018) is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available definition of the term. It is defined as: "Criteria for determining whether two elements are compatible or incompatible."

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this term (it includes all the instances when the term was accepted as a part of a community's taxonomy):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 January 2016Yes

All Theories

The following definitions of the term have been suggested:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
Compatibility Criteria (Barseghyan-2015)Criteria for determining whether two theories are compatible or incompatible.2015
Compatibility Criteria (Fraser-Sarwar-2018)Criteria for determining whether two elements are compatible or incompatible.2018
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Accepted Theories

The following definitions of the term have been accepted:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyCompatibility Criteria (Barseghyan-2015)1 January 201611 October 2020
ScientonomyCompatibility Criteria (Fraser-Sarwar-2018)11 October 2020

Suggested Modifications

Here is a list of modifications concerning this term:
ModificationCommunityDate SuggestedSummaryVerdictVerdict RationaleDate Assessed
Sciento-2018-0017Scientonomy28 December 2018Accept the new definition of compatibility criteria as criteria for determining whether two elements are compatible or incompatible.AcceptedThe discussions concerning this modification took place mostly online, but primarily outside of this encyclopedia. There is a communal agreement that the modification is to be accepted as it fixes "an obvious drawback of [Barseghyan's] original definition".c1 Since "compatibility is a stance that can be taken towards methods, theories, and questions alike"c2 it is agreed that we need a definition that is applicable to all epistemic elements, not merely theories. It was also noted that the new definition has the advantage of being "neutral to the the addition of new epistemic elements to the scientonomic ontology".c311 October 2020

Current Definition

In Scientonomy, the accepted definition of the term is Compatibility Criteria (Fraser-Sarwar-2018).

Compatibility Criteria (Fraser-Sarwar-2018) states: "Criteria for determining whether two elements are compatible or incompatible."

Compatibility Criteria (Fraser-Sarwar-2018).png

Like demarcation and acceptance criteria, compatibility criteria can be part of an epistemic agent's employed method. An epistemic agent employs these criteria to determine whether two elements (e.g. methods, theories, questions) are mutually compatible or incompatible, i.e. whether they can be simultaneously part of the agent's mosaic. In principle, these criteria can be employed to determine the compatibility of elements present in the mosaic, as well as those outside of it (e.g. scientists often think about whether a proposed theory is compatible with the theories actually accepted at the time). Fraser and Sarwar point out that Barseghyan's original definition of the term "excludes a simple point that is assumed elsewhere in scientonomy: elements other than theories (i.e. methods and questions) may be compatible or incompatible with other elements (which, again, need not be theories)".1p. 72 To fix this omission, Fraser and Sarwar "suggest that the word ‘theories’ be changed to ‘elements’ to account for the fact that the compatibility criteria apply to theories, methods, and questions alike".1p. 72

Different communities can have different compatibility criteria. While some communities may opt to employ the logical law of noncontradiction as their criterion of compatibility, other communities may be more tolerant towards logical inconsistencies. According to Barseghyan, the fact that these days scientists "often simultaneously accept theories which strictly speaking logically contradict each other is a good indication that the actual criteria of compatibility employed by the scientific community might be quite different from the classical logical law of noncontradiction".2p. 11 For example, this is apparent in the case of general relativity vs. quantum physics where both theories are accepted as the best available descriptions of their respective domains (i.e. they are considered compatible), but are known to be in conflict when applied simultaneously to such objects as black holes.



There is currently no accepted view concerning the existence of compatibility criterias.


No classes are currently accepted as being disjoint with this class.


No classes are currently accepted as subtypes of a compatibility criteria.


No classes are currently accepted as supertypes of a compatibility criteria.


No associations of a compatibility criteria are currently accepted.

If a question concerning the ontology of a compatibility criteria is missing, please add it here.


If a question concerning the dynamics of a compatibility criteria is missing, please add it here.

Related Topics

This term is also related to the following topic(s):


  1. a b  Fraser, Patrick and Sarwar, Ameer. (2018) A Compatibility Law and the Classification of Theory Change. Scientonomy 2, 67-82. Retrieved from
  2. ^  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.