Epistemic Stances - Compatibility (Fraser-Sarwar-2018)

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An attempt to answer the question of Epistemic Stances which states "The only stance that can be taken towards epistemic elements of all kinds is compatibility."

Epistemic Stances - Compatibility was formulated by Patrick Fraser and Ameer Sarwar in 2018.1 It is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available theory on the subject.


Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of Epistemic Stances - Compatibility (Fraser-Sarwar-2018):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 October 2021The theory became accepted as a result of the acceptance of the respective suggested modification.Yes

Suggestions To Accept

Here are all the modifications where the acceptance of this theory has been suggested:
ModificationCommunityDate SuggestedSummaryVerdictVerdict RationaleDate Assessed
Sciento-2018-0016Scientonomy28 January 2018Accept compatibility as a distinct epistemic stance that can be taken towards epistemic elements of all types. Also accept that compatibility is binary, reflexive, and symmetric. Transitivity of compatibility holds only within mosaics, not in general.AcceptedThe community agreed that the compatibility is "a distinct epistemic stance, separable, in principle, from that of theory acceptance",c1 as it is "a stance that may be taken in addition to/combination with other stances".c2 The reviewers agreed that "Fraser and Sarwar argue convincingly that elements outside the mosaic can be assessed for compatibility with other elements inside or outside the mosaic",c3 since it "can be used to compare elements that are all part of a mosaic, all not part of a mosaic, or some combination of the two".c4 It was also argued that "since we accept the existence of compatibility criteria... we should also accept that there is such a stance as compatibility".c5 Finally, it was also suggested that the idea of compatibility as a binary relation is to be further explored.c61 October 2021

Question Answered

Epistemic Stances - Compatibility (Fraser-Sarwar-2018) is an attempt to answer the following question: What are the epistemic stances that can be taken by epistemic agents towards epistemic elements of all types?

See Epistemic Stances for more details.


According to Fraser and Sarwar, "compatibility is a distinct epistemic stance that agents can take towards elements".1p.70 They show this by arguing that it is possible to take the stance of compatibility towards a pair of elements without taking any of the other stances towards these elements.

  • Thus, compatibility is distinct from acceptance, since two elements need not be in the same mosaic, or even accepted by any agent to be considered, in principle, compatible. For example, an epistemic agent may consider Ptolemaic astrology compatible with Aristotelian natural philosophy without accepting either Ptolemaic astrology or Aristotelian natural philosophy.
  • Compatibility is also different from use, since a pair of theories can be considered compatible regardless of whether any of them is considered useful. For instance, one can consider quantum mechanics and evolutionary biology compatible, while finding only the former useful.
  • Finally, compatibility is also distinct from pursuit, since an agent can consider a pair of theories compatible with or without pursuing either. An agent, for instance, may find two alternative quantum theories pursuitworthy while clearly realizing that the two are incompatible.


  1. a b  Fraser, Patrick and Sarwar, Ameer. (2018) A Compatibility Law and the Classification of Theory Change. Scientonomy 2, 67-82. Retrieved from https://scientojournal.com/index.php/scientonomy/article/view/31278.