David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Thomas S. Kuhn claimed that the meanings of scientific terms change in theory changes or in scientific revolutions. In philosophy, meaning change has been taken as the source of a group of problems, such as untranslatability, incommensurability, and referential variance. For this reason, the majority of analytic philosophers have sought to deny that there can be meaning change by focusing on developing a theory of reference that would guarantee referential stability. A number of philosophers have also claimed that Kuhn’s view can be explained by the fact that he accepted and further developed many central tenets of logical empiricism. I maintain that the genesis of Kuhn’s meaning theorising lies in his historical approach and that his view of meaning change is justified. Later in his career he attempted to advance a theory of meaning and can be said to have had limited success in it. What is more, recent cognitive science has unexpectedly managed to shed light on Kuhn’s insights on the organisation of information in the mind, concept learning, and concept definition. Furthermore, although Kuhn’s critique of Putnam’s causal theory of reference has often been dismissed as irrelevant, he has a serious point to address. Kuhn thought that the causal theory that works so well with proper names cannot work with scientific terms. He held that conceptual categories are formed by similarity and dissimilarity relations; therefore, several features and not only one single property are needed for determination of extension. In addition, the causal theory requires universal substances as points of reference of scientific terms. Kuhn was a conceptualist, who held that universals do not exist as mind-independent entities and that mind-dependent family resemblance concepts serve the role of universals. Further, at the beginning of his career, Kuhn was interested in the question of what concepts or ideas are and how they change in their historical context. Although he did not develop his theorising on this issue, I demonstrate that this is a genuine problem in the philosophy of history. Finally, Kuhn argued that scientists cannot have access to truth in history because we cannot transcend our historical niche, and as a consequence, the truth of a belief cannot be a reason for theory choice. Instead of truth, we can rely on justification. I also discuss Kuhn’s idea that problem-solving is the main aim of science and show that this view can be incorporated into coherentist epistemology.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (2007). Kuhn, the Correspondence Theory of Truth and Coherentist Epistemology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (3):555-566.
Similar books and articles
George A. Reisch (1991). Did Kuhn Kill Logical Empiricism? Philosophy of Science 58 (2):264-277.
K. Brad Wray (2011). Kuhn's Evolutionary Social Epistemology. Cambridge University Press.
Xiang Chen, Hanne Andersen & Peter Barker (1998). Kuhn's Theory of Scientific Revolutions and Cognitive Psychology. Philosophical Psychology 11 (1):5 – 28.
Paul Hoyningen-Huene (1993). Reconstructing Scientific Revolutions: Thomas S. Kuhn's Philosophy of Science. University of Chicago Press.
Richard Henry Schmitt (2006). Darwin, Kuhn, and Polanyi. Tradition and Discovery 33 (2):49-55.
Thomas A. C. Reydon & Paul Hoyningen‐Huene (2010). Discussion: Kuhn's Evolutionary Analogy in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions and “the Road Since Structure”. Philosophy of Science 77 (3):468-476.
Michel Ghins (2003). Thomas Kuhn on the Existence of the World. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (3):265 – 279.
S. K. Arun Murthi & Sundar Sarukkai (2009). Multisemiosis and Incommensurability. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):297-311.
Lefteris Farmakis (2008). Did Tom Kuhn Actually Meet Tom Bayes? Erkenntnis 68 (1):41 - 53.
Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (2010). Kuhn on Essentialism and the Causal Theory of Reference. Philosophy of Science 77 (4):544-564.
Added to index2010-07-22
Total downloads20 ( #130,548 of 1,699,549 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #206,271 of 1,699,549 )
How can I increase my downloads?