Philosophy Study 3 (5) (2013)

Rogier De Langhe
Tilburg University
The lack of an account of rationality in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was a lacuna which Thomas Kuhn acutely felt. In this paper, I argue that Herbert Simon’s notion of “satisficing” provides a formally well-developed and empirically well-established theory of rationality that fits well with Kuhn’s general characterization of science. I start by considering two rival interpretations of the problem of Kuhnian rationality and introduce Simon’s notion of satisficing. In Section 3, I show how satisficing can be used to interpret paradigm, change, rational theory-choice, relativism, and progress. On this account, Kuhnian scientists are not irrational. Rather they employ the same computational mechanism which allows humans to play chess.
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DOI 10.17265/2159-5313/2013.05.004
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