Thomas S. Kuhn

Kuhn, Thomas Samuel

Thomas Samuel Kuhn, 1922–96, American philosopher and historian of science, b. Cincinnati, Ohio. He trained as a physicist at Harvard (Ph.D. 1949), where he taught the history of science from 1948 to 1956. He subsequently taught at the Univ. of California, Berkeley (until 1964), Princeton (until 1979), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (until 1991). In his highly influential work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), Kuhn distinguished between normal science and revolutionary science. In normal science, researchers operating within a particular "paradigm," i.e., Ptolemaic astronomy, engage in activity that involves solving problems related to the paradigm. In revolutionary science, which occurs rarely, researchers abandon one paradigm, i.e. Ptolemaic astronomy, and embrace another, i.e., Copernican astronomy. Kuhn held the abandoned paradigm and the embraced one to be "incommensurable" with one another such that the fundamental concepts of one cannot be rendered by the terms of the other. The jump from one paradigm to another, he argued, has a sociological explanation, but no strictly rational justification. Kuhn's other works include The Copernican Revolution (1957) and The Essential Tension (1977).

See G. Gutting, ed., Paradigms and Revolutions: Appraisals and Applications of Thomas Kuhn's Philosophy of Science (1980).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The American Philosopher: Conversations with Quine, Davidson, Putnam, Nozick, Danto, Rorty, Cavell, MacIntyre, and Kuhn
Rosanna Crocitto; Giovanna Borradori.
University of Chicago Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Paradigms of Scientific Evolution: Thomas S. Kuhn"
Quantification: A History of the Meaning of Measurement in the Natural and Social Sciences
Harry Woolf.
Bobbs-Merrill, 1961
Librarian’s tip: "The Functions of Measurement in Modern Physcial Science" by Thomas S. Kuhn begins on p. 31
Scientific Change: Historical Studies in the Intellectual, Social, and Technical Conditions for Scientific Discovery and Technical Invention, from Antiquity to the Present
A. C. Crombie.
Basic Books, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "The Function of Dogma in Scientific Research" by Thomas S. Kuhn begins on p. 347
Leaving the Cave: Evolutionary Naturalism in Social-Scientific Thought
Pat Duffy Hutcheon.
Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Twenty-Five "Thomas Kuhn and the Crisis in Social Science"
The Worst Enemy of Science? Essays in Memory of Paul Feyerabend
John Preston; Gonzalo Munévar; David Lamb.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Paul Feyerabend and Thomas Kuhn"
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Nickles.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Rosmini, Ratzinger, and Kuhn: Observations on a Note by the Doctrinal Congregation
Guarino, Thomas.
Theological Studies, Vol. 64, No. 1, March 2003
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Theories of Scientific Progress: An Introduction
John Losee.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Kuhn's Taxonomic Criterion"
Canonizing Economic Theory: How Theories and Ideas Are Selected in Economics
Christopher D. Mackie.
M. E. Sharpe, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Thomas Kuhn" begins on p. 25
Encyclopedia of Literature and Science
Pamela Gossin.
Greenwood Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "Revolutions/Crises/Paradigms/Kuhn" begins on p. 283
The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past
Keith Windschuttle.
Encounter Books, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Thomas Kuhn begins on p. 206
Anatomy of a Controversy: The Question of a "Language" among Bees
Adrian M. Wenner; Patrick H. Wells.
Columbia University Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "The Onset of the Kuhnian Revolution"begins on p. 23
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