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date: 05 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article reviews the impact of Thomas Kuhn’s monograph The Structure of Scientific Revolutions on subsequent work in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. It identifies the early philosophical reaction to Kuhn’s alleged “relativism” as based on a misinterpretation of his views about incommensurability and argues that the answers to relativistic challenges are already latent in Structure itself. Kuhn’s enduring influence consists in the impetus he gave to studies of the role of values within the sciences, in the recognition of the complexities of episodes of scientific change, in his proposals for understanding how scientific revolutions may change the world in which scientists work (this latter theme was at the center of his thought in the decades after Structure), and, most obviously, in his introduction of the term ‘paradigm’. In articulating that theme, Kuhn can be seen as returning to central ideas in classical pragmatism.

Keywords: Kuhn, paradigm, incommensurability, revolution, relativism, values, pragmatism

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