Comment on Stephen Toulmin’s ‘Conceptual Revolutions in Science’
Mr. Toulmin’s queries are, of course, rhetorical. It is difficult to see how anyone could answer “No” to them. For in effect they call attention to what is already implied in the notion of the conceptual development of science; and while someone, a logical empiricist, for instance, might doubt whether the study of the history of conceptual change is necessary for the understanding of scientific activity or at least of the logic of science, there can be no doubt that if one undertakes to study conceptual development one must necessarily take account of innovation and selection and be prepared to recognize the possibility that criteria of selection have varied among different professional groups at different times. Otherwise, one would not be studying development but something else — the chronicle of errors, perhaps. Kuhn and Toulmin, elsewhere, have brilliantly illustrated, in the explanation of scientific change, how different paradigms of science have existed at different times. But they have been able to do so only from the standpoint of a paradigm of the history of science; they have sought, that is, to render intelligible the change of scientific paradigms from the standpoint of an historical paradigm which they share.
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