John Horgan offers a defense of the science philosopher who made “paradigm shift” an everyday term, by James McClellan, a different early Seventies student from Errol Morris, the one at whom he flung an ashtray back then:
Back then science was seen as having a distinct method and as the triumphant and seamless layering of one secure brick of knowledge on top of another. Whatever else we may think of Kuhn’s Structure of 1962, he killed Whiggism. He showed once and for all that the history of science has been marked by fundamental discontinuities (revolutions), and he was supremely creative in outlining processes involved in scientific change. These are major and incontrovertible contributions to our understanding of science and its history…
Of course, all that came crashing down, Errol and Steven Weinberg notwithstanding, when it became clear that science is fundamentally a social activity and scientific claims are socially constructed by practitioners, admittedly trying their best to say something solid about the natural world around us. Kuhn’s views of 1962 had to be fitted in to and defended in this radically new intellectual context. He did his best despite the disdain of establishment philosophers, who never accepted him as a legitimate voice. …
If Errol or Kripke or anyone can tell me something absolutely objective and unchanging about what’s out there in the natural world, I sincerely want to hear and believe that. Maybe I should (re)turn to Jesus. John Horgan, “Thomas Kuhn Wasn’t So Bad” at Scientific American
Hold that last thought (?). Maybe. McClellan could otherwise end up arguing whether he is more conscious than his coffee mug. That is the trajectory; the question is, what role did Kuhn really play?
Follow UD News at Twitter!
Flung an ashtray? See: Was philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn “evil”?
Darwinism’s Influence On Philosopher Of Science Thomas Kuhn (a friend thinks it’s relevant)
Is there life Post-Truth?