Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers

By Stuart Brown; Diané Collinson et al. | Go to book overview
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Main publications:
(1957) The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
(1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: Chicago University Press; second enlarged edition, 1970.
(1966) (with John L. Heilbron, Paul L. Forman and Lini Allen) Sources for History of Quantum Physics: An Inventory and Report, Philadelphia: Mémoires of the American Philosophical Society.
(1977) The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
(1978) Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Dis-continuity, 1894-1912, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
(1983) 'Rationality and theory choice', in Journal of Philosophy 80, pp. 563-71.
(1992) 'The natural and the human sciences', in D. Hiley et al. (eds) The Interpretive Turn: Philosophy, Science and Culture, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
(1994) 'Afterwords', in P. Horwich (ed.) World Changes: Thomas Kuhn and the Nature of Science.

Secondary literature:
Barnes, Barry (1982) T.S. Kuhn and Social Science, New York: Columbia University Press.
Buchdahl, Gerd (1965) Review of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, British Journal of the History of Science 4:55-69.
Gutting, Gary (ed.) (1980) Paradigms and Revolutions, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.
Horwich, Paul (ed.) (1994) World Changes: Thomas Kuhn and the Nature of Science, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Hoyningen-Huene, Paul (1993) Reconstructing Scientific Revolutions: Thomas S. Kuhn s Philosophy of Science, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (published in an earlier version in 1989 as Die Wissenschaftsphilosophie Thomas S. Kuhns: Re-konstruktion und Grundlagenprobleme).
Lakatos, Imré and Musgrave, Alan (eds) (1970) Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Laudan, Larry (1977) Progress and Its Problems, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Putnam, Hilary (1981) 'The corroboration of theories', in I. Hacking (ed.), Scientific Revolutions, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shapere, Dudley (1964) Review of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Philosophical Review 73: 383-94.
Siegel, Harvey (1987) Relativism Refuted: A Critique of Contemporary Epistemological Relativism, Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

Kuhn's work falls into two main categories-his writings as a historian of science and his more controversial contribution to the philosophy and sociology of science. His former preoccupation appears to have influenced the latter domain but not vice versa. His reputation as a historian of science is indisputably solid, but his fame, transcending subject boundaries, rests primarily on The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which admirers and critics tend to concentrate on, often excluding much else which might serve to modify the dominant theme which appears to them to emerge from its initial publication in 1962.

That thesis is perceived to consist of: (i) a paradigm establishing itself constitutes the maturity of a science; (ii) paradigms (embodying exemplars) are scientific achievements universally recognized and accepted by the community of practitioners to provide model problems and solutions, permitting normal science to occur; (iii) paradigm changes involve revolutionary science; (iv) competing paradigms are incommensurable because each selects different problems as significant to solve, using in turn different standards to count as success of solution; furthermore, no common observational data exist that could function as a neutral standard for comparing them, as each involves perceiving different 'facts'; (v) neutral rules and facts cannot, therefore, determine paradigm change; (vi) paradigm change is accounted for by the decisions of the scientific community, namely, justification by authority of persons, not by impersonal criteria like logical or methodological rules.

Philosophers of science tend to conclude irrationalism or relativism from the above. If so, there can be no philosophy but only sociology (and history) of science. On the other hand, historians and sociologists of science, while welcoming the treatment of cognitive beliefs and interests by the ordinary methods of empirical sociology, nevertheless, think that Kuhn has underplayed the influence of external factors, such as political and social ones, on scientific research. Kuhn himself, however, moans that he has been much misunderstood. But he is satisfied that Hoyningen-Huene (1993) has done justice to the complexities of his own position and the controversies surrounding it since the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Kuhn shares with Popper the honour of laying the agenda, in the main, of (Anglo-American)


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