Paradigms and Revolutions: Applications and Appraisals of Thomas Kuhn's Philosophy of Science

Gutting, Gary

Kuhn's philosophy is open to serious criticism. But Gutting wrote a benevolent review and interpretation. Gutting sees in Kuhn's thesis of paradigm what Gutting calls a "super-theory". The super-theory strategically includes all that is in a paradigm over and above the articulate theory. On Kuhn's view methodological rules and theory-neutral observations do not resolve competition between paradigms; it is the scientific community's judgment that is the ultimate locus of science's rational authority. Gutting says this is Kuhn's new concept of rationality, and Gutting accuses criticizing philosophers such as Scheffler of distorting Kuhn's views by failing to understand them and by using positivist criteria such as rules. Not infrequently in the history of science scientists have exercised their sovereignty by ignoring or rejecting the rules formulated by academic philosophers. This is what happened when both Einstein and Heisenberg repudiated the then-prevailing positivism. Yet however often philosophers have been humbled in such manner by successful scientists, philosophers cannot simply abandon their efforts to characterize the practices and articulate the criteria responsible for the conspicuous successes of science, any more than physicists can simply abandon formulating theories. Philosophers thus attempt to characterize a new philosophy that emerges in the successful practice of science. This is what the contemporary pragmatists have done in response to quantum theory after Heisenberg.

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