Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn


Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996), the author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is probably the best-known and most influential historian and philosopher of science of the last 25 years, and has become something of a cultural icon. His concepts of paradigm, paradigm change and incommensurability have changed our thinking about science. This volume offers an introduction to Kuhn's life and work and considers the implications of his work for philosophy, cognitive psychology, social studies of science and feminism. More than a retrospective on Kuhn, the book explores future developments of cognitive and information services along Kuhnian lines. Outside of philosophy the volume is of interest to professionals and students in cognitive science, history of science, science studies and cultural studies. Thomas Nickles is Professor of Philosophy and Chair at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is editor of Scientific Discovery, Logic, and Rationality and Scientific Discovery: Case Studies (both Reidel, 1980). Nickles is co-editor of PSA 1982 (The Philosophy of Science Association Proceedings).


Every essay in this book has been written especially for this volume. While the book is aimed at a general educated audience, each author aspires to say something sufficiently substantial about one or more dimensions of Kuhn's work to interest experts. Moreover, this is more than a retrospective on Kuhn's work. It is forward-looking as well, with an eye on ongoing developments in philosophy of science, epistemology, social studies of science, and especially the cognitive sciences. Given our space limitations, we focus on Kuhn the philosopher of science rather than Kuhn the historian, and we devote more attention to Kuhn's relation to cognitive science than to social studies of science.

I owe the ideafor the project to Terry Moore, Publishing Director for Humanities at Cambridge University Press, New York. Terry conceived the timely new series Contemporary Philosophy in Focus, with this book being one of the first offerings. I appreciate his guidance as to what sort of book it should be. Thanks to production editor Louise Calabro and to copyeditor Helen Greenberg, who gave the volume its final form. Thanks also to my wife, Dr. Gaye Mc Collum-Nickles, for helpful comments on my own contributions to the volume.

The decision of which authors to include in such a volume is always difficult and somewhat arbitrary. Several outstanding expositors and/or critics of Kuhn had to be passed over in order to keep the volume to a manageable size and to achieve a wider diversity of perspectives on Kuhn's work. Nonetheless, I am delighted that the particular authors represented here have joined me in the project, and I hope that you, the reader, find their work as stimulating as I have.

Thomas Nickles Philosophy Department University of Nevada, Reno . . .

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