Review of Metaphysics 24 (2):349-349 (1970)

Abstract
During the past decade some of the most provocative and controversial disputes concerning the philosophy and history of science have centered about the work of Thomas Kuhn and Sir Karl Popper. One, therefore, looks with anticipation to this volume which is based on a symposium held in July, 1965 where Kuhn, Popper and several of Popper's former students met for an intellectual confrontation. But the result is depressing. The volume is an editorial mess. Two of the main scheduled speakers never appeared at the symposium, although papers by them are published here. Some of the remarks published here seem to be those spoken on the day the symposium was held while others, like Kuhn's answer to his critics, were written four years after the symposium. The result is a confusing and distracting editorial unevenness. While Kuhn's fair-minded opening paper raises some of the most important issues to be confronted, one quickly senses that the Popperians are not really very much interested in discussing Kuhn's work but rather in pushing their own pet theses. Kuhn puts this rather generously when he labels it an example of "talking-through-each-other." Most of the Popperians seem to be obsessed with Kuhn's understanding of normal science and neglect the much more interesting questions concerning his views on scientific revolutions, the sense in which science does and does not make progress, the criteria involved in adjudicating among competing theories. It is almost with relief that one reads Margaret Masterman's remark that it is a "crashingly obvious fact" that there is normal science. Ironically, Masterman's article which is basically sympathetic to Kuhn's work is the most illuminating and the most critical. More successfully than any of other contributors she shows the ambiguities involved in Kuhn's idea of a paradigm. One's wishes that the Popperians would take a good hard look at themselves and what they are doing as it is so disastrously illustrated here. Although ostensibly dedicated to serious critical rationalism, they seem more eager to score points than to understand what they are criticizing. Although they supposedly abhor clubiness, they are rapidly forming themselves into a scholastic circle where the object seems to be to show how brilliant or how stupid some other student of Popper is. Although they scorn the quest for origins, they are almost compulsive in attempting to show that anything worthwhile was previously said by Sir Karl. This book illustrates the faults of the Popperians at their worst and few of their virtues. There is much heat and wit, but little light.--R. J. B.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1970242192
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