About this topic
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. Kuhn e a noção de exemplar.Paulo Abrantes - 2010 - Principia 2 (1):61-102.
    In this 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 (...)
  2. Subjective Views of Kuhn.Peter Achinstein - 2001 - 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.
  3. Kuhn's Way.Joseph Agassi - 2002 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 32 (3):394-430.
  4. Rationality and the Tu Quoque Argument.Joseph Agassi - 1973 - 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. (...)
  5. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Joseph Agassi - 1966 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 4 (4):351-354.
  6. Stegmüller Squared.Joseph Agassi & John R. Wettersten - 1980 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 11 (1):86-94.
    Wolfgang Stegmüller, the leading German philosopher of science, considers the status of scientific revolutions the central issue in the field ever since "the famous Popper-Lakatos-Kuhn discussion" of a decade and a half ago, comments on "almost all contributions to this problem", and offers his alternative solutions in a series of papers culminating with, and summarized in, his recent "A Combined Approach to Dynamics of Theories. How To Improve Historical Interpretations of Theory Change By Applying Set Theoretical Structures", published in Gerard (...)
  7. A Gadamerian Critique of Kuhn's Linguistic Turn: Incommensurability Revisited.Amani Albedah - 2006 - 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 (...)
  8. Kuhn y la Racionalidad.Raúl Alcalá Campos - 1986 - Dianoia: Anuario de Filosofía 32:119-138.
  9. Paradigms, Populations and Problem-Fields: Approaches to Disagreement.Douglas Allchin - 1990 - 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.
  10. De Kant a Kuhn, Acotando Por Putnam.José Francisco Alvarez Alvarez - 2004 - Endoxa 1 (18):495.
  11. Conceptual Development and Dynamic Realism.Hanne Andersen - 2013 - 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 (...)
  12. The Second Essential Tension: On Tradition and Innovation in Interdisciplinary Research.Hanne Andersen - 2013 - 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 (...)
  13. Edwin H.-C. Hung Beyond Kuhn. Scientific Explanation, Theory Structure, Incommensurability and Physical Necessity.Hanne Andersen - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):237-239.
  14. On Kuhn.Hanne Andersen - 2001
  15. Critical Notice: Kuhn, Conant and Everything-a Full or Fuller Account.Hanne Andersen - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (2):258-262.
  16. Kuhn's Account of Family Resemblance: A Solution to the Problem of Wide-Open Texture. [REVIEW]Hanne Andersen - 2000 - 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 (...)
  17. Learning by Ostension: Thomas Kuhn on Science Education.Hanne Andersen - 2000 - Science and Education 9 (1-2):91-106.
    Significant claims about science education form an integral part of Thomas Kuhn's philosophy. Since the late 1950s, when Kuhn started wrestling with the ideas of ‘normal research’ and ‘convergent thought’, the nature of science education has played an important role in his argument. Hence, the nature of science education is an essential aspect of the phase-model of scientific development developed in his famous The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, just as his later work on categories and conceptual structures takes its starting (...)
  18. The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker & Xiang Chen - 2013 - 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 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 revolution, (...)
  19. The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker & Xiang Chen - 2006 - 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 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 revolution, (...)
  20. Kuhn's Mature Philosophy of Science and Cognitive Psychology.Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker & Xiang Chen - 1996 - 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 (...)
  21. Criticism and the History of Science: Kuhn's, Lakatos's, and Feyrabend's Criticisms of Critical Rationalism.Gunnar Andersson - 1994 - 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 ...
  22. Thomas Samuel Kuhn - Nekrológ.Eugen Andreanský - 1996 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 3 (3):330-331.
  23. Crisis and Kuhn.Jensine Andresen - 1999 - Isis 90 (S2):S43-S67.
  24. Science: A Greatest Integer Function– A Punctuated, Cumulative Approach to the Inquisitive Nature of Science.Kristianne Anor - 2012 - Stance 5:19-30.
    Thomas Kuhn argues that scientific advancements sometimes involve paradigm shifts between incommunsurable theories, thoughts, and concepts. I argue that the phenomenon Kuhn is attempting to describe is better explained as akin to a greatest integer function of punctuated equilibrium. I conclude that Kuhn is mistaken in thinking that science is an actively vigorous, cumulative discipline.
  25. Science: A Greatest Integer Function.Kristianne C. Anor - 2012 - Stance 5:19-30.
    Thomas Kuhn argues that scientific advancements sometimes involve paradigm shifts between incommunsurable theories, thoughts, and concepts. I argue that the phenomenon Kuhn is attempting to describe is better explained as akin to a greatest integer function of punctuated equilibrium. I conclude that Kuhn is mistaken in thinking that science is an actively vigorous, cumulative discipline.
  26. Can a Historian of Science Be a Scientific Realist?Theodore Arabatzis - 2001 - 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, (...)
  27. Wittgenstein and Kuhn on Paradigm.Ines Lacerda Araujo - forthcoming - Philosophy Study.
  28. The Anatomy of Three Thought Experiments in Plato's Republic, Apology, and Alcibiades Minor.Andre M. Archie - 2010 - 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 (...)
  29. Kuhn's Paradigms and Neoclassical Economics: Reply to Dow.George Argyrous - 1994 - Economics and Philosophy 10 (1):123.
  30. Kuhn's Paradigms and Neoclassical Economics.George Argyrous - 1992 - Economics and Philosophy 8 (2):231-248.
    Thirty years after its publication, Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is still the source of much discussion in economics. Its rel-ativistic tone has often been used to fuel the claims of dissident traditions against the prevailing orthodoxy, or at least to plead the case for intellectual pluralism. Through his arguments regarding the incommensurability of different theoretical approaches to a particular subject, Kuhn's work has allowed many to argue that dissident traditions are just as legitimate as orthodoxy for analyzing (...)
  31. Los Argumentos Lingüísticos de Kuhn.Julio César Armero Sanjosé - 1997 - Endoxa 1 (9):125.
  32. Multisemiosis and Incommensurability.S. K. Arun Murthi & Sundar Sarukkai - 2009 - 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 (...)
  33. The Quasicrystals Discovery as a Resonance of the Non-Euclidean Geometry Revolution: Historical and Philosophical Perspective.Dana Ashkenazi & Zvi Lotker - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (1):25-40.
    In this paper, we review the history of quasicrystals from their sensational discovery in 1982, initially “forbidden” by the rules of classical crystallography, to 2011 when Dan Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. We then discuss the discovery of quasicrystals in philosophical terms of anomalies behavior that led to a paradigm shift as offered by philosopher and historian of science Thomas Kuhn in ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’. This discovery, which found expression in the redefinition of the concept (...)
  34. Quantum Gravity and the Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Jürgen Audretsch - 1981 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 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.
  35. Paradigms, Rationality, and Partial Communication.William H. Austin - 1972 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 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 (...)
  36. In the Tracks of the Historicist Movement: Re-Assessing the Carnap-Kuhn Connection.Guy S. Axtell - 1993 - 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 (...)
  37. The Taming of Science and Technology Studies.Zaheer Baber - 2003 - 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.
  38. From Fleck's Denkstil to Kuhn's Paradigm: Conceptual Schemes and Incommensurability.Babette E. Babich - 2003 - 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 (...)
  39. 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.Babette E. Babich - 2003 - Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):99 – 109.
  40. The Structure of Medical Revolutions.Jim Baillie - 1988 - Cogito 2 (1):27-29.
  41. Kuhn's Inductivism.Patricia Baillie - 1975 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):54 – 57.
  42. On the Grammatical Aspects of Radical Scientific Discovery.Aristides Baltas - 2004 - Philosophia Scientiae 8 (1):169-201.
    Radical scientific discovery and the associated radical “paradigm change” are treated here as following from the disclosure of what I call background ‘assumptions’. These are taken as more or less equivalent to the “hinge propositions” that Wittgenstein discusses in his On Certainty. On this basis, various issues connected to meaning variance, theory change, incommensurability and so forth, are discussed. It is shown that Kuhn’s overall account need not, with qualifications, imply either idealism or relativism while rationality and scientific progress can (...)
  43. The Logical Structure of Classical Genetics.Wolfgang Balzer & Pablo Lorenzano - 2000 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 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 (...)
  44. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Fourth Edition, 50th Anniversary.N. Bar-Am - 2014 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 44 (5):688-701.
  45. Kuhnian Revolutions in Developmental Biology.Jonathan Bard - 1996 - Bioessays 18 (11):937-937.
  46. Kuhn, Incommensurability, and Cognitive Science.Peter Barker - 2001 - 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 (...)
  47. Reconstructing Scientific Revolutions: Thomas S. Kuhn's Philosophy of SciencePaul Hoyningen-Huene Alexander J. Levine.Peter Barker - 1994 - Isis 85 (1):193-195.
  48. Kuhn on Concepts and Categorization.Peter Barker, Xiang Chen & Hanne Andersen - 2003 - In Thomas Nickles (ed.), Thomas Kuhn. Cambridge University Press. pp. 212--245.
  49. Thomas Kuhn and the Problem of Social Order in Science.Barry Barnes - 2003 - In Thomas Nickles (ed.), Thomas Kuhn. Cambridge University Press. pp. 122.
  50. The Road Since Structure: Philosophical Essays, 1970–1993, with an Autobiographical Interview. [REVIEW]Barry Barnes - 2001 - British Journal for the History of Science 34 (3):341-373.
    Reviews the book, The road since structure: Philosophical essays, 1970–1993, with an autobiographical interview by Thomas S. Kuhn, James Conant, and John Haugeland . This marvelous collection consists of three distinct sections, containing five self-standing essays in which Kuhn refines and clarifies many of his most basic concepts , lengthy replies to some of his most famous critics and contemporaries , and a remarkable autobiographical interview conducted just over a year before his death. 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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