Mosaic Split

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What is mosaic split? How should it be defined?

Mosaic split is one of the key concepts in current scientonomy. Thus, its proper definition is of great importance.

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. Mosaic Split (Barseghyan-2015) is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available definition of the term. Mosaic Split (Barseghyan-2015) states "A scientific change where one mosaic transforms into two or more mosaics."


The topic of mosaic split finds its roots, in contemporary philosophy of science, in discussions regarding theory assessment and the divergence of belief in scientific communities. Before the works of Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend in the early 1960s, philosophers of science had paid relatively little attention to the processes of theory discovery and divergence in their discussions of scientific change. Rather, early 20th century philosophy of science was characterized by a positivist programme which sought to explicate the logic underlying epistemic justification of extant theories; theories being themselves understood in terms of their propositional content.

Cohen and Nagel (1934) articulated this popular dismissal of any “logic of discovery”, arguing that it was in fact a form of genetic fallacy to allow the historical context of a theory to enter into its assessment, as this conflated logical and historical questions.

Reichenbach (1938) likewise described the philosopher's goal as a theoretical reconstruction of scientific justifications; to be formulated in a way amenable to logical analysis, then subjected to normative evaluation. Empirical facts regarding the actual process of scientific discovery were, for Reichenbach, properly the domain of historians and sociologists: philosophy, by necessity, contained a normative dimension.

Both logical empiricism, whose framework stood dominant in philosophy of science through the early and mid-20th century, and Karl Popper's mid-century approach of “critical rationalism”—in no small part a response to the former's perceived deficits—can be situated within the pre-Kuhnian tradition. Logical empiricists, like Rudolf Carnap, shared with the Popperians a staunch belief in the “unity of method” (alternately, the “static method thesis”), holding that all instances of science share at least one unchanging, static method, whose contents are substantive rather than procedural, and which in fact makes up science's transhistorical core. Coupled with their conviction that science results in a cumulative and linear progression towards truth—or in Popper's case, truth-resemblance—this attachment to a universal, rational method of science meant that the pre-Kuhnian programme was relatively limited in the ways in which it could model belief divergence.

For the most part, logical empiricists and Popperians conceptualized scientific disagreement as something which takes place within the boundaries of a single scientific community, whose standards for assessment remain constant even as its theories undergo linear progression. Consequentially, divergence in scientific belief can have, in the pre-Kuhnian model, only three possible sources: it results either from ambiguities within the shared methods of science; from the underdetermination of theory choices by (possibly unambiguous) methods, or from varying access to relevant evidence and information among scientists. (Laudan ).

It is worth nothing that both Carnap, in his Empricism, Semantics, and Ontology, and Popper, in his Logic of Scientific Discovery, allowed for “pragmatic” judgments of cognitive value, which could be no more than instrumentally rational, to enter into their models of justification. Despite pronouncing that “all states of affairs are of one kind and are known by the same method”1 Carnap argued that adjudicating “external questions”, which concern the assessment and employment of different linguistic frameworks2, does in fact require judgments made on the bases of expediency or practical use. Likewise, Popper thought observational claims were theory-laden, and that their acceptance was therefore unjustifiable by experience alone, being instead based in “an act, a free decision” (Logic of Scientific Discovery, 109).

Whatever the implications of these views for the overall coherency of their respective systems, it remains the case that neither Carnap nor Popper posited any serious divergence in the axiological or methodological values of the scientific community. Later Popperians, like Imre Lakatos and John Worrall, would uphold Popper's contention that scientists enjoy a near-universal consensus in their actual employed values. Lakatos drew upon the implicit/explicit distinction to explain apparent divergences in scientific belief—for example, in the explicit pronouncements of scientists—as mere instances of “methodological false consciousness", arguing that there remained in all cases a unity within the implicit methods actually employed by the scientific community.

It was not until Kuhn and Feyerabend kicked off the “historical turn” towards a post-positivist philosophy of science that belief divergence came to be understood in a way more closely resembling the scientonomic mosaic split. Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions challenged a number of longstanding assumptions in philosophy of science. Notably, empirical facts about scientific discoveries, revolutions, and their historical fates; previously declared to be outside the scope of philosophy, were now accepted as legitimate topics for a descriptive theory of scientific change. If, as the positivists had argued, there could be no true “logic” of scientific discovery, this did not preclude the existence of general patterns in the processes of discovery and theory change. Kuhn attempted to describe just these sorts of patterns in his discussion of paradigms and anomalies: discoveries, he suggested, were gradual and incremental in periods of paradigmatic normal science, and transformative or “theory-induced” in periods of pre-paradigmatic or revolutionary science. (Kuhn 1970 1962: chapter 6).

Perhaps the most significant change wrought by the post-positivist shift, in the context of belief divergence, was the reevaluation of the static method thesis. Kuhn and Feyerabend advanced the notion of incommensurability, arguing that scientific revolutions consisted not only in the acceptance of new descriptive theories, but also the replacement of previously-accepted axioms, method and taxonomies. Consequentially, it was not always possible for the theoretical content of new scientific paradigms to be translated to (taxonomic incommensurability) or evaluated in (methodological incommensurability) the language of their predecessors—though this did not entail their necessary incomparability, as theory comparison was for both philosophers neither determinate nor dependent on mutual translatability.

Although Kuhn's concept of incommensurability was more broadly-applicable than Feyarabend's—the latter restricting incommensurability to those fundamental concept or principles which grounded a scientific paradigm—both Kuhn and Feyarabend subscribed to the view that the methods of science were not static, universal, or transhistorical; but rather malleable, varying, and dynamic (the “dynamic methods thesis”). Scientific “progress”, then, was non-cumulative in nature, with cumulative advancement being possible only during periods of normal science, and necessarily paradigm-specific. Importantly, it could no longer be maintained that science progresses naturally and continuously towards something like truth, for the theory-replacements which accompany revolutionary science always involve some degree of “loss” of epistemic content.

(Kuhn 1962, 94, 103; Feyerabend 1975, 23–32 )

Having held that different paradigms utilized divergent standards for the assessment and acceptance of theories, Kuhn could suppose that belief divergence was a result of there existing multiple scientific communities subscribing to distinct and incommensurable paradigms. It was thus possible, in the Kuhnian model, for belief divergence to follow from the equally-rational application of different methods and taxonomies. By contrast, those who defended the static methods thesis had to posit some sort of irrationality; ambiguity; underdetermination, or informational asymmetry, in order to explain belief divergence in light of a unitary scientific method. Kuhn initially conceived of incommensurability-related belief divergence as diachronic, corresponding to the linear progression of paradigms over time: one belonged either to the current scientific paradigm or its predecessors, with beliefs diverging accordingly.

However, Kuhn would later revise this picture so as to allow for cases of synchronic belief divergence; whereby multiple scientific communities, employing different paradigms, could exist contemporaneously: scientific revolutions no longer entailed a linear progression from one paradigm to another, but rather could result in the “branching” or “splitting” of a single scientific community into multiple communities, sub-communities, or disciplines. (Kuhn 2000 [1993], 238).

Larry and Rachel Lauden would later develop this notion of belief divergence as result of the employment of distinct standards of assessment, in order to better explain the processes of scientific discovery, innovation, and consensus-formation (233). Laudan and Laudan held that there always exists some divergence in the epistemic standards employed by a single scientific community; and since difference in belief following a scientific innovation necessarily result from these divergent standards, one can predict differences in the implicit or explicit standards of those who defend an innovation at earlier or later points in its development. While this appears to posit a problem in explaining the commonness of scientific consensus, Lauden and Lauden explain successful consensus-formation as a result of a theory's achieving dominance by reference to all standards currently employed by the community, howsoever divergent. (226).


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Scientonomy1 January 2016Yes

All Theories

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Mosaic Split (Barseghyan-2015)A scientific change where one mosaic transforms into two or more mosaics.2015
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Accepted Theories

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ScientonomyMosaic Split (Barseghyan-2015)1 January 2016

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Current View

In Scientonomy community, the accepted definition of the term is Mosaic Split (Barseghyan-2015). It is defined as: "A scientific change where one mosaic transforms into two or more mosaics."

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