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Kuhn & Copernicus

September 1, 2009

Last Thursday I was lecturing on Kuhn’s idea of scientific revolutions. Today I was telling my students why Kuhn’s claims regarding the Copernican “revolution” were just plain bad history. So a link to this post by Thony Christie seems apt. My feeling has always been that Kuhn’s ideas are worthless and certainly don’t seem to map to the history of science, especially within biology.

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  1. September 1, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks for the link ThC

  2. Cera Lawrence
    September 2, 2009 at 8:08 am

    My original undergrad thesis was going to be analyzing the Preformation/Epigenesis debate in the late Enlightenment as a possible example of a Kuhnian revolution. Luckily I got bored with it; I think it would have ended up being a nice, neat project that would have lacked any real substance. Basically just a long essay. I think it would have been easy to do as J.S.W. suggests Kuhn did in the link you gave: impose the theory on the history.

  3. John Jackson
    September 2, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Ron Giere I think had it right when he said that Kuhn was too much like a historian for philosophers and too much like a philosopher for historians.

    I think you are too strong when you claim that Kuhn’s ideas were “worthless.” I agree that Kuhn’s particular ideas do not “map” onto the history of science and even more strongly agree that physicist Kuhn knew nothing about biology. However we are all beneficiaries of Kuhn exploding formalist models of science. If you think Kuhn doesn’t understand history of science, read Carnap. Kuhn gets a lot of credit for opening up the humanistic study of science to new approaches even if his particular idea didn’t pan out.

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