Thomas Kuhn and Interdisciplinary Conversation: Why Historians and Philosophers of Science Stopped Talking to One Another

Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 263)

Abstract

This paper looks back to Thomas S. Kuhn’s seminal work of 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, as a landmark in the relations between history and philosophy of science. I propose that Kuhn’s book, though read both by historians and by philosophers, contributed to the process by which they have developed largely separate concerns in recent decades. Kuhn was a committed participant in interdisciplinary discourse, and yet his book was read in fundamentally different ways in the two disciplinary communities. To understand how this happened, I propose that we need to modify Kuhn’s own categories of historical analysis to recognize the bearing on disciplinary communities of factors that he discounted as “external.” I argue that philosophers and historians approached Kuhn’s work with preoccupations shaped by the cultural and political context of Cold War debates about science, though that context yielded very different orientations in the two communities.

Keywords

Totalitarian Regime Strong Programme Disciplinary Community Epistemological Relativism Pragmatic Relativism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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