Wittgenstein, Kuhn and the Turn Towards Science Studies

  • Finn Collin
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 348)


The version of philosophical naturalism that Science Studies adopted as its foundation was formulated by Ludwig Wittgenstein. Like Quine’s naturalism, Wittgenstein’s version sprang from disaffection with Carnap’s philosophy of language. But while Quine’s model of language as a network of inferential connections could immediately be transformed into a picture of scientific knowledge, there is no Wittgensteinian theory of science. However, one can be extrapolated from various parts of his work. What results is a picture of science showing a striking similarity to Kuhn’s celebrated paradigm model. And indeed, both Wittgenstein’s and Kuhn’s thinking constitute a significant part of the theoretical foundations of Science Studies. However, Science Studies aim at transcending the largely historical perspective of Kuhn, and replace it with a strictly sociological approach. Another and highly significant difference between Wittgenstein and Kuhn on one side and Science Studies on the other lies in STS’s critical attitude towards science and its status in society. I this, they articulate misgivings about science widespread in Western societies after World War II. There is an interesting parallel to the Frankfurt School on this point. The latter wanted to critique science from a purely philosophical perspective, however, whereas Science Studies adopted a naturalistic approach, using social science to debunk natural science.


Science Policy Scientific Revolution Language Game Rational Reconstruction Frankfurt School 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept of Media, Cognition and CommunicationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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