Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times

University of Chicago Press (2000)
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Abstract

Thomas Kuhn's _The Structure of Scientific Revolutions_ is one of the best known and most influential books of the twentieth century. Whether they adore or revile him, critics and fans alike have tended to agree on one thing: Kuhn's ideas were revolutionary. But were they? Steve Fuller argues that Kuhn actually held a profoundly conservative view of science and how one ought to study its history. Early on, Kuhn came under the influence of Harvard President James Bryant Conant, who had developed an educational program intended to help deflect Cold War unease over science's uncertain future by focusing on its illustrious past. Fuller argues that this rhetoric made its way into _Structure,_ which Fuller sees as preserving and reinforcing the old view that science really is just a steady accumulation of truths about the world. Fuller suggests that Kuhn, deliberately or not, shared the tendency in Western culture to conceal possible negative effects of new knowledge from the general public. Because it insists on a difference between a history of science for scientists and one suited to historians, Fuller charges that _Structure_ created the awkward divide that has led directly to the "Science Wars" and has stifled much innovative research. In conclusion, Fuller offers a way forward that rejects Kuhn's fixation on paradigms in favor of a conception of science as a social movement designed to empower society's traditionally disenfranchised elements. Certain to be controversial, _Thomas Kuhn_ must be read by anyone who has adopted, challenged, or otherwise engaged with _The Structure of Scientific Revolutions._ "Structure will never look quite the same again after Fuller. In that sense, he has achieved one of the main aims of his ambitious and impressively executed project."—Jon Turney, _Times Higher Education Supplement_ "Philosophies like Kuhn's narrow the possible futures of inquiry by politically methodizing and taming them. More republican philosophies will leave the future open. Mr. Fuller has amply succeeded in his program of distinguishing the one from the other."—William R. Everdell, _Washington Times_

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Author's Profile

Steve Fuller
University of Warwick

Citations of this work

Thomas Kuhn.Alexander Bird - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Thought styles and paradigms—a comparative study of Ludwik Fleck and Thomas S. Kuhn.Nicola Mößner - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):362–371.
Relativism or Relationism? A Mannheimian Interpretation of Fleck’s Claims About Relativism.Markus Seidel - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (2):219-240.
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.

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