Mechanism of Compatibility

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Under what conditions can two elements coexist in the same mosaic?

While some theories and methods can coexist in the same mosaic, others seem to be incompatible. So, the task is to understand when two theories (or two methods) can and when they cannot coexist in the same mosaic. For instance, the theories general relativity and quantum physics as it relates to how they explain singularities in black holes are inconsistent, however they remain in the mosaic. On the other hand, inconsistencies between the Aristotelian worldview and Catholic theology means both required modification before they were compatible with eachother.1pp. 159-161 What conditions allow for the coexistence of elements, and what conditions require modification or rejection to take place?

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Hakob Barseghyan and Rory Harder in 2015. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. Compatibility Corollary (Fraser-Sarwar-2018) is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available theory on the subject. Compatibility Corollary (Fraser-Sarwar-2018) states "At any moment of time, the elements of the scientific mosaic are compatible with each other."


There are several historical episodes that appear to explicate the mechanism of theory and method incompatibility. For instance, Aristotelian physics appears to contradict some aspects of Catholic scripture in cases, one of which was regarding the status of God’s power. Scripture asserted God as an omnipotent entity, however Aristotelian physics appeared to limit some physical phenomena such as the existence of empty space. The question arose: could God create empty space? In this case, these two elements of the mosaic were inconsistent with eachother and considered incompatible as condemnation came from the church to force natural philosophers to accept the concept of empty space in the name of God’s omnipotence.2 The Aristotelian theory of empty space was removed from the mosaic and replaced with the absolute theological declaration. This seems to show that when incompatibility is discovered, certain theories can push out or force change in others.

The theories of general relativity and quantum physics generally deal with separate aspects of physics, however on the matter of singularities in black holes, they differ.1pp. 159-160 However, this inconsistency is tolerated, and the modern scientific community appears to accept both theories as the best description of what happens in the singularity of a black hole. Potentially, this situation shows that when two theories deal with different domains that are each considered the best possible description for their respective domains, inconsistency in singular propositions is tolerated differ.1p. 160

Another example of incompatibility appears to be between Newtonian physics and Descartes’ physical theories. This appears to be a historical case of two inconsistent theories that both potentially satisfied the vague methods of the time, and illuminates a case of incompatibility that leads to a separation within the scientific community differ.1pp. 212-213


The zeroth law, in answer to the question of the mechanism of compatibility, was originally proposed in 2012 as forbidding inconsistency in the mosaic.1p. 153 In 2013, Rory Harder argued that inconsistency-intolerance was a practical impossibility and unsupported by the historical record, resulting the current formulation of the zeroth law.

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this question (it includes all the instances when the question was accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by a community):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 January 2016This is when the community accepted it's first answer to the question, The Zeroth Law (Harder-2015), which indicates that the question is itself considered legitimate.Yes

All Theories

The following theories have attempted to answer this question:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
The Zeroth Law (Harder-2015)At any moment of time, the elements of the scientific mosaic are compatible with each other.2015
The Law of Compatibility (Fraser-Sarwar-2018)If a pair of elements satisfies the compatibility criteria employed at the time, it becomes compatible within the mosaic; if it does not, it is deemed incompatible; and if assessment is inconclusive, the pair can become compatible, incompatible, or its status may be unknown.2018
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Accepted Theories

The following theories have been accepted as answers to this question:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyThe Zeroth Law (Harder-2015)1 January 20163 June 2020

Suggested Modifications

Here is a list of modifications concerning this topic:
ModificationCommunityDate SuggestedSummaryVerdictVerdict RationaleDate Assessed
Sciento-2018-0018Scientonomy28 January 2018Accept the new dynamic law of compatibility which specifies how exactly two elements become to be considered compatible or incompatible within a mosaic.Open

Current View

In Scientonomy community, the accepted theory on the subject is Compatibility Corollary (Fraser-Sarwar-2018). It states: "At any moment of time, the elements of the scientific mosaic are compatible with each other."

Compatibility Corollary (Fraser-Sarwar-2018).png

The corollary is meant to restate the content of Harder's the zeroth law of scientific change. Since the corollary follows deductively from the definition of compatibility, it highlights that the zeroth law as it was formulated by Harder lacks empirical content. Read More

Related Topics

This topic is a sub-topic of Mechanism of Scientific Change. It has the following sub-topic(s):


  1. a b c d e  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.
  2. ^  Thijssen, Johannes M. M. H. (2003) Condemnation of 1277. In Zalta (Ed.) (2017). Retrieved from