Mosaic Split (Barseghyan-2015)

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This is a definition of Mosaic Split that states "A scientific change where one mosaic transforms into two or more mosaics."

Mosaic Split p 202.jpg

This definition of Mosaic Split was formulated by Hakob Barseghyan in 2015.1 It is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available definition of the term.

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this definition:
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 January 2016The definition became de facto accepted by the community at that time together with the whole theory of scientific change.Yes

Question Answered

Mosaic Split (Barseghyan-2015) is an attempt to answer the following question: What is mosaic split? How should it be defined?

See Mosaic Split for more details.


To understand what is meant by mosaic split, consider the following case. "A community initially accepts some theories and employs some methods; in other words, initially, there is one mosaic of theories and methods. Also, as a result of some events, this initially united community transforms into two different communities with two somewhat different mosaics of theories and methods."1p.202 This is different than mere disagreement. Mosaic split only occurs if there are two communities that each present their different theories as accepted (in contexts like articles, conferences, textbooks and so on). That is, there is disagreement concerning the status of certain theories, and not just on the theories themselves.1p.203

There are several possible scenarios for mosaic split to occur. As per Barseghyan (2015), here are the possibilities: "a mosaic can split when the requirements of the current method are simultaneously satisfied by two or more competing theories. On the other hand, a mosaic can split when the outcome of theory assessment is inconclusive. While in the former case a mosaic split takes place necessarily, in the latter case it is merely possible."1p.203 The derivation from these scenarios to resulting theorems about mosaic split can be found respectively on the Necessary Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015) and Possible Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015) pages.

The gist of this definition can be illustrated by the following examples.

Scientific Disagreement does not equate to Mosaic Split - Newtonianism

A quick example of mosaic split is formulated by Barseghyan (2015) as follows.

Take for instance the famous early 18th century case of Newtonianism in Britain vs. Cartesianism in France. If we were to go back to the 1730s we would spot at least two distinct scientific communities, with their distinct mosaics. While the curricula of the British universities included the Newtonian natural philosophy, the French universities taught the Cartesian natural philosophy among other things. In short, there is an instance of mosaic split if and only if there are two or more parties that take different theories to be accepted.1p.203

Therefore, mosaic split is not synonymous with regular scientific disagreement.

Scientific Disagreement does not equate to Mosaic Split

Barseghyan (2015) illustrates the distinction here succinctly:

Two physicists or even two groups of physicists may disagree on one topic or another. Yet, as long as they take the same theories as accepted ones, there is a regular scientific disagreement. Suppose, for instance, there are two groups of quantum physicists which subscribe to two different quantum theories – say, the so-called Many Worlds theory and GRW theory respectively. Suppose also that the two groups understand that the currently accepted theory is the orthodox quantum mechanics. Consequently, in their university lectures both groups present the orthodox theory as the currently accepted one. Here we have a typical example of scientific disagreement. The members of the two groups may even tell their students that they personally believe there is a better theory available. But as long as they stress that their personal favourite theory is not the currently accepted one, we deal with an instance of regular scientific disagreement.1p.202-3

Barseghyan also provides a more historically grounded example in the context of the physics community:

Imagine a group of physicists circa 1918 who considered general relativity as the best available description of its domain. This view was in disagreement with the position of the vast majority of scientists who believed in the then-accepted version of the Newtonian theory. Yet there was no mosaic split, since both the Newtonians and Einsteinians clearly realised which theory was accepted and which theory was merely a contender. Take Eddington, for instance, who was in that small group of early adherents of general relativity. He had no illusions regarding the status of general relativity, for he knew perfectly well that it wasn’t the accepted theory.1p.203


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  1. a b c d e f g  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.