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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Kuhn and his controversies

Over at The New Atlantis - a journal whose overall values often run in a direction opposite to mine - you can find an article on Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in honour of that much-cited book's 50th anniversary of publication.

This piece, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions at Fifty", by Matthew C. Rees, appears, to me at least, to be an accurate account of Kuhn's views, including of the areas where they were vague. The points of vagueness and incompleteness led to much debate: at one point, Kuhn famously denied being a Kuhnian, with the epistemic relativism that that was thought to involve.

Rees also appears, to me at least, to be careful and fair in his assessment of the book's merit and importance, including its relationship to the respective ideas of Michael Polanyi and Karl Popper.

I'm sure there are contentious points of interpretation and judgment, but this piece is much better than most of what I read about Kuhn and the associated controversies. You could do a lot worse than giving it a read if you've wanted something that lays out the nature of these controversies clearly and fairly compendiously.

1 comment:

Quine said...

Thanks, Russell, I will give it a look.