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Summary Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922-1996) was a historian and philosopher of science whose extremely popular book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, has had a profound and enduring impact on the philosophy of science.  In Structure, Kuhn proposed a model of scientific theory change according to which science advances by revolutionary displacement of the theoretical structures he called "paradigms".  Kuhn's account of such scientific revolutions was controversial because it appeared to suggest that such theoretical change cannot be made on a rational basis due to the incommensurability of alternative paradigms.  It also contains a challenge to the scientific realist view that scientific progress constitutes a continual progression toward the truth about the world.  Kuhn continued to develop his ideas in later publications in a way which led to a moderation of his views about theory choice, though he retained his anti-realist view.  He later claimed that science is governed by a set of epistemic values that provide the rationale for theory choice, though these values do not constitute an algorithm for theory choice.  He also developed a refined view of the incommensurability thesis, according to which there is a translation failure between a narrow group of interdefined terms within competing theories, but this untranslatability does not prevent mutual understanding between advocates of rival theories.  Kuhn is best known for his model of scientific theory change and some of the controversial philosophical ideas associated with this model.  But he was also the author of several major works in the history of physics.
Key works Kuhn develops his model of scientific change in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, originally published in 1962.  He discusses the idea of epistemic values in chapter 13 of  The Essential Tension.  Refined statements of many of his philosophical ideas may be found in the posthumous collection of his essays entitled The Road Since Structure.  For general analysis of Kuhn's work see Alexander Bird's Thomas Kuhn and Paul Hoyningen-Huene's Reconstructing Scientific Revolutions.  Two excellent collections of essays on Kuhn are Thomas Nickles' Thomas Kuhn and Vasso Kindi and Theodore Arabatzis Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Revisited.
Introductions For an introduction to Kuhn, see Alexander Bird's entry on Kuhn in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  1. Paulo Abrantes (2010). Kuhn e a noção de exemplar. Principia 2 (1):61-102.
    In thts paper I argue that Kuhn's analysis of the role played by `exemplars' in normal science should be considered one of his most important contributions to the Philosophy of Science. The paper makes a detailed analysis of the relationship between the various elements of a 'disciplinary matrix´— empirical generalizations, models and exemplars — starting with Kuhn's views as exposed in various of his books and papers. Kuhn's analysis is investigated in the context of the discussions, in the 50s and (...)
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  2. Peter Achinstein (2001). Subjective Views of Kuhn. Perspectives on Science 9 (4):423-432.
    : In response to a charge of subjectivism, Kuhn in his Postscript emphasizes the importance of "values" (accuracy, simplicity, explanatory power, etc) that are shared by scientists generally. However, Kuhn adds, these values are applied differently by different scientists. By employing a comparison with partially subjective views of Carnap on confirming evidence, this paper raises questions about Kuhn's position on values by considering ways it might be interpreted as subjective and ways it may not.
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  3. Joseph Agassi (2002). Kuhn's Way. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 32 (3):394-430.
  4. Joseph Agassi (1973). Rationality and the Tu Quoque Argument. Inquiry 16 (1-4):395 – 406.
    The tu quoque argument is the argument that since in the end rationalism rests on an irrational choice of and commitment to rationality, rationalism is as irrational as any other commitment. Popper's and Polanyi's philosophies of science both accept the argument, and have on that account many similarities; yet Popper manages to remain a rationalist whereas Polanyi decided for an irrationalist version of rationalism. This is more marked in works of their respective followers, W. W. Bartley III and Thomas S. (...)
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  5. Amani Albedah (2006). A Gadamerian Critique of Kuhn's Linguistic Turn: Incommensurability Revisited. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (3):323 – 345.
    In this article, I discuss Gadamer's hermeneutic account of understanding as an alternative to Kuhn's incommensurability thesis. After a brief account of Kuhn's aesthetic account and arguments against it, I argue that the linguistic account faces a paradox that results from Kuhn's objectivist account of understanding, and his lack of historical reflexivity. The statement 'Languages are incommensurable' is not a unique view of language, and is thus subject to contest by incommensurable readings. Resolving the paradox requires an account of incommensurability (...)
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  6. Douglas Allchin (1990). Paradigms, Populations and Problem-Fields: Approaches to Disagreement. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:53 - 66.
    Kuhn's distinction of within- and between-paradigm thinking can be extended using his notion of a problem-field. Hull's notion of populational variation applies within paradigms; his type specimen approach allows one to analyze disagreement and identify the problem-field. Categories of questions or problem frames can also partition debate, establishing interparadigm variation. A case where multiple simultaneous paradigms compete highlights the role of empirical domains. The Ox-Phos Controversy in bioenergetics (1961-1977) serves as a case study. Conclusions are framed as strategies for scientists.
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  7. H. Andersen, P. Barker & X. Chen (1998). Kuhn's Theory of Scientific Revolutions and Cognitive Psychology. Philosophical Psychology 11 (1):5-28.
    In a previous article we have shown that Kuhn's theory of concepts is independently supported by recent research in cognitive psychology. In this paper we propose a cognitive re?reading of Kuhn's cyclical model of scientific revolutions: all of the important features of the model may now be seen as consequences of a more fundamental account of the nature of concepts and their dynamics. We begin by examining incommensurability, the central theme of Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions, according to two different (...)
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  8. Hanne Andersen (2013). Conceptual Development and Dynamic Realism. Studia Philosophica Estonica 5 (2):133-151.
    This paper focuses on Thomas S. Kuhn's work on taxonomic concepts and how it relates to empirical work from the cognitive sciences on categorization and conceptual development. I shall first review the basic features of Kuhn's family resemblance account and compare to work from the cognitive sciences. I shall then show how Kuhn's account can be extended to cover the development of new taxonomies in science, and I shall illustrate by a detailed case study that Kuhn himself mentioned only briefly (...)
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  9. Hanne Andersen (2013). The Second Essential Tension: On Tradition and Innovation in Interdisciplinary Research. Topoi 32 (1):3-8.
    In his analysis of “the essential tension between tradition and innovation” Thomas S. Kuhn focused on the apparent paradox that, on the one hand, normal research is a highly convergent activity based upon a settled consensus, but, on the other hand, the ultimate effect of this tradition-bound work has invariably been to change the tradition. Kuhn argued that, on the one hand, without the possibility of divergent thought, fundamental innovation would be precluded. On the other hand, without a strong emphasis (...)
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  10. Hanne Andersen (2010). Edwin H.-C. Hung Beyond Kuhn. Scientific Explanation, Theory Structure, Incommensurability and Physical Necessity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):237-239.
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  11. Hanne Andersen (2006). The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Cambridge University Press.
    Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions became the most widely read book about science in the twentieth century. His terms 'paradigm' and 'scientific revolution' entered everyday speech, but they remain controversial. In the second half of the twentieth century, the new field of cognitive science combined empirical psychology, computer science, and neuroscience. In this book, the recent theories of concepts developed by cognitive scientists are used to evaluate and extend Kuhn's most influential ideas. Based on case studies of the Copernican (...)
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  12. Hanne Andersen (2001). Critical Notice: Kuhn, Conant and Everything-a Full or Fuller Account. Philosophy of Science 68 (2):258-262.
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  13. Hanne Andersen (2000). Kuhn's Account of Family Resemblance: A Solution to the Problem of Wide-Open Texture. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 52 (3):313-337.
    It is a commonly raised argument against thefamily resemblance account of concepts that, on thisaccount, there is no limit to a concept's extension.An account of family resemblance which attempts toprovide a solution to this problem by including bothsimilarity among instances and dissimilarity tonon-instances has been developed by the philosopher ofscience Thomas Kuhn. Similar solutions have beenhinted at in the literature on family resemblanceconcepts, but the solution has never received adetailed investigation. I shall provide areconstruction of Kuhn's theory and argue that (...)
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  14. Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker & Xiang Chen (1996). Kuhn's Mature Philosophy of Science and Cognitive Psychology. Philosophical Psychology 9 (3):347 – 363.
    Drawing on the results of modem psychology and cognitive science we suggest that the traditional theory of concepts is no longer tenable, and that the alternative account proposed by Kuhn may now be seen to have independent empirical support quite apart from its success as part of an account of scientific change. We suggest that these mechanisms can also be understood as special cases of general cognitive structures revealed by cognitive science. Against this background, incommensurability is not an insurmountable obstacle (...)
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  15. Gunnar Andersson (1994). Criticism and the History of Science: Kuhn's, Lakatos's, and Feyrabend's Criticisms of Critical Rationalism. E.J. Brill.
    In "Criticism and the History of Science" Karl Popper's falsificationist conception of science is developed and defended against criticisms raised by Thomas ...
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  16. Theodore Arabatzis (2001). Can a Historian of Science Be a Scientific Realist? Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S531-.
    In this paper I address some of the problems that the historical development of science poses for a realist and discuss whether a realist construal of scientific activity is conducive to historiographical practice. First, I discuss, by means of historical examples, Ian Hacking's defense of entity realism. Second, I try to show, drawing on Kuhn's recent work on incommensurability, that the realism problem is relevant to historiography and that a realist position entails a particular historiographical strategy, which faces problems. Finally, (...)
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  17. Andre M. Archie (2010). The Anatomy of Three Thought Experiments in Plato's Republic, Apology, and Alcibiades Minor. Journal of Philosophical Research 35:305-321.
    I argue that Plato’s use of thought experiments anticipate many of the themes discussed by Thomas S. Kuhn’s classic essay, “A Function for Thought Experiments.” Kuhn’s concern is that thought experiments satisfy the condition of verisimilitude. That is, thought experiments must not be conducted merely to alter the conceptual apparatus of the scientist regarding the phenomenon explored, but rather to alter the scientist’s conceptual apparatus for the sake of altering his actions (i.e., practical rationality). Plato, too, is quite concerned with (...)
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  18. George Argyrous (1994). Kuhn's Paradigms and Neoclassical Economics: Reply to Dow. Economics and Philosophy 10 (01):123-.
  19. George Argyrous (1992). Kuhn's Paradigms and Neoclassical Economics. Economics and Philosophy 8 (02):231-248.
  20. S. K. Arun Murthi & Sundar Sarukkai (2009). Multisemiosis and Incommensurability. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):297-311.
    Central to Kuhn's notion of incommensurability are the ideas of meaning variance and lexicon, and the impossibility of translation of terms across different theories. Such a notion of incommensurability is based on a particular understanding of what a scientific language is. In this paper we first attempt to understand this notion of scientific language in the context of incommensurability. We consider the consequences of the essential multisemiotic character of scientific theories and show how this leads to even a single theory (...)
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  21. P. D. Asquith & T. Nickles (eds.) (1983). Psa 1982. Philosophy of Science Association.
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  22. Jürgen Audretsch (1981). Quantum Gravity and the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 12 (2):322-339.
    Summary In a case study Kuhn's morphology of scientific revolutions is put to the test in confronting it with the contemporary developments in physics. It is shown in detail, that Kuhn's scheme is not compatible with the situation in physics today.
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  23. William H. Austin (1972). Paradigms, Rationality, and Partial Communication. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 3 (2):203-218.
    Summary Critics have said that Kuhn's account of scientific revolutions represents them as subjective and irrational processes, in which mystical conversions and community pressures rather than good reasons determine choices between theories. Kuhn rejects the charge, insisting that there is partial communication among proponents of competing paradigm candidates and their arguments are rational though not coercive. The critics reply that in fact Kuhn's position entails total non-communication and irrationality. A Kuhnian account of partial communication is thus necessary. Kuhn's attempt to (...)
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  24. Guy S. Axtell (1993). In the Tracks of the Historicist Movement: Re-Assessing the Carnap-Kuhn Connection. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 24 (1):119-146.
    Thirty years after the publication of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, sharp disagreement persists concerning the implications of Kuhn’s "historicist" challenge to empiricism. I discuss the historicist movement over the past thirty years, and the extent to which the discourse between two branches of the historical school has been influenced by tacit assumptions shared with Rudolf Carnap’s empiricism. I begin with an examination of Carnap’s logicism --his logic of science-- and his 1960 correspondence with Kuhn. I focus on (...)
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  25. Zaheer Baber (2003). The Taming of Science and Technology Studies. Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):95 – 98.
    Discusses the use by several philosophers of the book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," by philosopher Thomas S. Kuhn, as an intellectual source for attacking the sociology of science proposed by Robert K. Merton and his students. Assertion by Kuhn that the philosophers attacking Merton had misconstructed his ideas; Sociology of Kuhnian sociology of science established by Steve Fuller.
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  26. Babette E. Babich (2003). Kuhn's Paradigm as a Parable for the Cold War: Incommensurability and its Discontents From Fuller's Tale of Harvard to Fleck's Unsung Lvov. Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):99 – 109.
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  27. Babette E. Babich (2003). From Fleck's Denkstil to Kuhn's Paradigm: Conceptual Schemes and Incommensurability. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (1):75 – 92.
    This article argues that the limited influence of Ludwik Fleck's ideas on philosophy of science is due not only to their indirect dissemination by way of Thomas Kuhn, but also to an incommensurability between the standard conceptual framework of history and philosophy of science and Fleck's own more integratedly historico-social and praxis-oriented approach to understanding the evolution of scientific discovery. What Kuhn named "paradigm" offers a periphrastic rendering or oblique translation of Fleck's Denkstil/Denkkollektiv , a derivation that may also account (...)
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  28. Richard Bailey, Education.
    Thomas Kuhn is a rarity. Widely regarded as one of the most influential theorists of the physical sciences, he has also, largely through his concept of the ‘paradigm’, had a sustained effect on the social sciences and education. His classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is read and cited by scholars in an astonishing range of disciplines, in part due to its acquired association with progressive social research and practice. This article takes issue with Kuhn’s conceptions of science and its (...)
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  29. Patricia Baillie (1975). Kuhn's Inductivism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):54 – 57.
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  30. Wolfgang Balzer & Pablo Lorenzano (2000). The Logical Structure of Classical Genetics. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 31 (2):243-266.
    We present a reconstruction of so-called classical, formal or Mendelian genetics using a notation which we believe is more legible than that of earlier accounts, and lends itself easily to computer implementation, for instance in PROLOG. By drawing from, and emending, earlier work of Balzer and Dawe (1986,1997), the present account presents the three most important lines of development of classical genetics: the so-called Mendel's laws, linkage genetics and gene mapping, in the form of a theory-net. This shows that the (...)
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  31. Jonathan Bard (1996). Kuhnian Revolutions in Developmental Biology. Bioessays 18 (11):937-937.
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  32. Peter Barker (2001). Kuhn, Incommensurability, and Cognitive Science. Perspectives on Science 9 (4):433-462.
    : This paper continues my application of theories of concepts developed in cognitive psychology to clarify issues in Kuhn's mature account of scientific change. I argue that incommensurability is typically neither global nor total, and that the corresponding form of scientific change occurs incrementally. Incommensurability can now be seen as a local phenomenon restricted to particular points in a conceptual framework represented by a set of nodes. The unaffected parts in the framework constitute the basis for continued communication between the (...)
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  33. Carol Bayley (1995). Our World Views (May Be) Incommensurable: Now What? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 20 (3):271-284.
    In focusing their view on Kuhn, Robert Veatch and William Stempsey ignore alternative sources of insight from other voices that could help move us beyond incommensurability. Richard Rorty and Helen Longino, for example, offer another view of science and objectivity with constructive insight for the practice of science and medicine. Keywords: positivism, relativism, scientific knowledge, incommensurability, Kuhn, Rorty, Longino CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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  34. Kelly Becker (2002). Kuhn's Vindication of Quine and Carnap. History of Philosophy Quarterly 19 (2):217 - 235.
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  35. Jens Benninghoff, Hans-Jürgen Möller, Harald Hampel & Angelo Luigi Vescovi (2008). The Problem of Being a Paradigm: The Emergence of Neural Stem Cells as Example for “Kuhnian” Revolution in Biology or Misconception of the Scientific Community? Poiesis and Praxis 6 (1-2):3-11.
    In a thought experiment we want to test how the emergence of adult neural stem cells could constitute an example for a scientific revolution in the sense of Thomas Kuhn. In his major work, The structure of scientific revolutions, 3rd edn, University of Chicago Press, Chicago (Kuhn 1996), the philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, states that scientific progress is not a cumulative process, but new theories appear by a rather revolutionary sequence of events. Kuhn built his theory on landmark events (...)
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  36. Maryanne Bertram (1987). A Kuhnian Approach to Merleau-Ponty's Thought. Philosophy Research Archives 13:275-283.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s later philosophy is not a simple revision of the themes of Phenomenology of Perception. It is a radical change of the kind Thomas Kuhn found in the history of science which involves: (1) a persistent anomaly, (2) the formation of new assumptions and (3) the creation of a new vocabulary. This paper concentrates on the problem Merleau-Ponty had with the tacit cogito and shows how he broke the tension it caused by changing the paradigm of his philosophy. It (...)
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  37. A. Bird (2012). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and its Significance: An Essay Review of the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (4):859-883.
    Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited books of the twentieth century. Its iconic and controversial nature has obscured its message. What did Kuhn really intend with Structure and what is its real significance? -/- 1 Introduction -/- 2 The Central Ideas of Structure -/- 3 The Philosophical Targets of Structure -/- 4 Interpreting and Misinterpreting Structure -/- 4.1 Naturalism -/- 4.2 World-change -/- 4.3 Incommensurability -/- 4.4 Progress and the nature of revolutionary change -/- 4.5 (...)
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  38. A. Bird (2004). Kuhn and Twentietch Century Philosophy of Science. Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 12:1-14.
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  39. A. Bird (2003). Thomas Samuel Kuhn. In Dictionary of Literary Biography.
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  40. Alexander Bird, Kuhn and Philosophy of Science in the Twentieth Century.
    Thomas Kuhn was undoubtedly the strongest influence on the philosophy of science in the last third of the twentieth century. Yet today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century it is unclear what his legacy really is. In the philosophy of science there is no characteristically Kuhnian school. This could be because we are all Kuhnians now. But it might also be because Kuhn’s thought, although revolutionary in its time, has since been superseded. In a sense both may be true. (...)
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  41. Alexander Bird (2012). What Can Cognitive Science Tell Us About Scientific Revolutions? Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 27 (3):293-321.
    Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is notable for the readiness with which it drew on the results of cognitive psychology. These naturalistic elements were not well received and Kuhn did not subsequently develop them in his published work. Nonetheless, in a philosophical climate more receptive to naturalism, we are able to give a more positive evaluation of Kuhn’s proposals. Recently, philosophers such as Nersessian, Nickles, Andersen, Barker, and Chen have used the results of work on case-based reasoning, analogical thinking, dynamic (...)
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  42. Alexander Bird (2008). Scientific Progress as Accumulation of Knowledge: A Reply to Rowbottom. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):279-281.
    I defend my view that scientific progress is constituted by the accumulation of knowledge against a challenge from Rowbottom in favour of the semantic view that it is only truth that is relevant to progress.
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  43. Alexander Bird, Thomas Kuhn. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited academic books of all time. His contribution to the philosophy science marked not only a break with several key positivist doctrines but also inaugurated a new style of philosophy of science that brought it much closer to the history of science. His account of the development of science held that science enjoys periods of stable growth punctuated by revisionary revolutions, to which he added the controversial ‘incommensurability thesis’, that theories (...)
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  44. Alexander Bird (2007). Incommensurability Naturalized. In L'ena Soler, Howard Sankey & Paul Hoyningen-Huene (eds.), Rethinking Scientific Change and Theory Comparison. Spinger. 21--39.
    In this paper I argue that we can understand incommensurability in a naturalistic, psychological manner. Cognitive habits can be acquired and so differ between individuals. Drawing on psychological work concerning analogical thinking and thinking with schemata, I argue that incommensurability arises between individuals with different cognitive habits and between groups with different shared cognitive habits.
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  45. Alexander Bird (2005). V *-Naturalizing Kuhn. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (1):99-117.
    I argue that the naturalism of Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," which he himself later ignored, is worthy of rehabilitation. A naturalistic conception of paradigms is ripe for development with the tools of cognitive science. As a consequence a naturalistic understanding of world-change and incommensurability is also viable.
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  46. Alexander Bird (2004). Kuhn on Reference and Essence. Philosophia Scientiae 8 (1):39-71.
    Kuhn's incommensurability thesis seems to challenge scientific realism. One response to that challenge is to focus on the continuity of reference. The casual theory of reference in particular seems to offer the possibility of continuity of reference that woud provide a basis for the sort of comparability between theories that the realist requires. In "Dubbing and Redubbing: the vulnerability of rigid designation" Kuhn attacks the causal theory and the essentialism to which is is related. Kuhn's view is defended by Rupert (...)
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  47. Alexander Bird (2004). Naturalizing Kuhn. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (1):99–117.
    I argue that the naturalism of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which he himself later ignored, is worthy of rehabilitation. A naturalistic conception of paradigms is ripe for development with the tools of cognitive science. As a consequence a naturalistic understanding of world-change and incommensurability is also viable.
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  48. Alexander Bird (2004). Kuhn, Naturalism and the Positivist Legacy. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 35 (2):337-56.
    I defend against criticism the following claims concening Thomas Kuhn: (i) there is a strong naturalist streak in The structure of scientific revolutions, whereby Kuhn used the results of a posteriori enquiry in addressing philosophical questions; (ii) as Kuhn's career as a philosopher of science developed he tended to drop the naturalistic elements and to replace them with more traditionally philosophical a prior approaches; (iii) at the same there is a significant residue of positivist thought in Kuhm, which Kuhn did (...)
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  49. Alexander Bird (2003). Kuhn, Nominalism, and Empiricism. Philosophy of Science 70 (4):690-719.
    In this paper I draw a connection between Kuhn and the empiricist legacy, specifically between his thesis of incommensurability, in particular in its later taxonomic form, and van Fraassen's constructive empiricism. I show that if it is the case the empirically equivalent but genuinely distinct theories do exist, then we can expect such theories to be taxonomically incommensurable. I link this to Hacking's claim that Kuhn was a nominalist. I also argue that Kuhn and van Fraassen do not differ as (...)
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  50. Alexander Bird (2002). Kuhn's Wrong Turning. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):443-463.
    Why, despite his enormous influence in the latter part of the twentieth century, has Kuhn left no distinctively Kuhnian legacy? I argue that this is because the development of Kuhn’s own thought was in a direction opposite to that of the mainstream of the philosophy of science. In the 1970s and 1980s the philosophy of science took on board the lessons of externalism as regards reference and knowledge, and became more sympathetic to a naturalistic approach to philosophical problems. Kuhn, on (...)
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