History of Science without <i>Structure</i>

Lorraine Daston

in Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions at Fifty

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2016 | ISBN: 9780226317038
Published online September 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780226317175 | DOI:
History of Science without Structure

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No word in the title (and project) of Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions now seems more outdated among historians of science than “structure.” The success of Kuhn’s own historicist program has made the existence of such over-arching structures across historical epochs and scientific disciplines seem implausible. Kuhn’s own version structures in the history of science centered on paradigms, but he was unable to explain how these could be reduced to a set of clear-cut rules–indeed, Kuhn denied the possibility of such reductions. Instead, he turned to metaphors drawn from perceptual psychology, especially experiments done on inverting glasses. Re-examining these experiments suggests a way out of the apparent impasse of rule-governed structures versus paradigms by rethinking the meaning of rule.

Keywords: Thomas Kuhn; structure; paradigm; perception; inverting glasses; rules

Chapter.  6458 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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