Kuhn's Kantian Dimensions

In K. Brad Wray (ed.), Interpreting Kuhn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract
Two questions should be considered when assessing the Kantian dimensions of Kuhn’s thought. First, was Kuhn himself a Kantian? Second, did Kuhn have an influence on later Kantians and neo-Kantians? Kuhn mentioned Kant as an inspiration, and his focus on explanatory frameworks and on the conditions of knowledge appear Kantian. But Kuhn’s emphasis on learning; on activities of symbolization; on paradigms as practical, not just theoretical; and on the social and community aspects of scientific research as constitutive of scientific reasoning, are all outside the Kantian perspective. Kuhn’s admiration for Kant is tempered by his desire to understand the processes of learning, of initiation into a scientific community, of experimentation using instruments, and of persuasion, drawing on the work of familiar influences, including Piaget, Koyré, and Wittgenstein, and less familiar ones, including Langer, Demos, and Frank. Both Kuhn and Kant were interested in the question: what is the status of science, and what is the role of the scientist in its development and justification? But Kuhn presents science in a much more messy, historically contingent, and socially charged way than Kant does. The paper’s conclusion evaluates Kuhn’s reception among researchers including Richardson and Friedman, assessing the prospects for future work.
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Archival date: 2020-10-11
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