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Accept the new dynamic law of compatibility which specifies how exactly two elements become to be considered compatible or incompatible within a mosaic.

The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Patrick Fraser and Ameer Sarwar on 28 December 2018.1 The modification was accepted on 9 October 2021.


The current zeroth law of scientific change is problematic in many respects. First, it pertains only to epistemic elements that are part of the mosaic, and says nothing about the compatibility of elements outside the mosaic. In addition, unlike the other laws, it attempts to explain the process of scientific change from a static perspective that deals with the state of the scientific mosaic at some particular point in time, rather than a dynamic perspective that describes the actual mechanics of the process of scientific change. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the current zeroth law is tautological, as it pretty much restates what is implicit in our notion of compatibility. While there is currently no explicitly accepted definition of compatibility, it can roughly be explicated as the ability of two elements to coexist within a particular mosaic. If this is what we currently mean by compatibility, then the formulation of the current zeroth law is a direct consequence of it, which means that the law lack empirical content. For all these reasons, a series of modifications are necessary, including the acceptance of a dynamic law of compatibility that explains how a pair of elements comes to be considered compatible or incompatible.


Theories To Accept

  • 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.

The Law of Compatibility (Fraser-Sarwar-2018).png

Questions Answered

This modification attempts to answer the following question(s):


The modification was accepted on 9 October 2021. It was agreed that the "modification provides a great addition to the current body of scientonomic knowledge"c1 as the law offers "a dynamic account of compatibility"c2 and "allows for a diachronic study of compatibility".c3 The law was praised for its non-tautological nature, since it "forbids a number of logically conceivable scenarios".c4 While finding the law acceptable, one of the commentators raised an important question for future scientonomic research: do we even need a separate law of compatibility? Specifically they asked: "Is assessment for compatibility with other elements of the mosaic really conceptually distinct from the process of assessment for theory acceptance, which is already covered by other scientonomic laws?"c5 On this view, "the issue of the conceptual separability of theory compatibility and theory acceptance, and thus the need for two parallel laws, remains an open question that warrants further investigation".c6

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  1. ^  Fraser, Patrick and Sarwar, Ameer. (2018) A Compatibility Law and the Classification of Theory Change. Scientonomy 2, 67-82. Retrieved from