Kuhn, Pedagogy, and Practice: A Local Reading of Structure

In Moti Mizrahi (ed.), The Kuhnian Image of Science: Time for a Decisive Transformation? London: Rowman & Littlefield (2018)
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Moti Mizrahi has argued that Thomas Kuhn does not have a good argument for the incommensurability of successive scientific paradigms. With Rouse, Andersen, and others, I defend a view on which Kuhn primarily was trying to explain scientific practice in Structure. Kuhn, like Hilary Putnam, incorporated sociological and psychological methods into his history of science. On Kuhn’s account, the education and initiation of scientists into a research tradition is a key element in scientific training and in his explanation of incommensurability between research paradigms. The first part of this paper will explain and defend my reading of Kuhn. The second part will probe the extent to which Kuhn’s account can be supported, and the extent to which it rests on shaky premises. That investigation will center on Moti Mizrahi’s project, which aims to transform the Kuhnian account of science and of its history. While I do defend a modified kind of incommensurability, I agree that the strongest version of Kuhn’s account is steadfastly local and focused on the practice of science.

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Lydia Patton
Virginia Tech


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