Philosophy Index

Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn was an American professor of history and philosophy, who wrote and lectured about the history and philosophy of science.

His most important work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1964), focuses on the notion of paradigm shifts in science. According to Kuhn, science does not progress in a linear fashion, but rather through a series of revolutions in which our understanding of science abruptly and radically changes. Revolutions inspired by Copernicus, Newton and Einstein are examples of paradigm shifts.

During the periods between paradigm shifts, scientists are engaged in the more mundane exercise of applying the knowledge of the current paradigm to current situations, and finding new data to enforce it. Data that seem to contradict the paradigm are seen as errors on the part of the everyday scientist, rather than anything that may be wrong with the paradigm itself.

Works

  • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Vitals

Name: Thomas Samuel Kuhn
Born: July 18, 1922, Cincinnati, Ohio
Died: June 17, 1996
Degrees: M.S. Physics (Harvard 1946)
Ph.D. Physics (Harvard 1949)