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Kuhn: Philosopher of Scientific Revolutions

Kuhn: Philosopher of Scientific Revolutions

Wes Sharrock, Rupert Read

ISBN: 978-0-745-61928-6

Oct 2002

248 pages

In Stock



Thomas Kuhn's shadow hangs over almost every field of intellectual inquiry. His book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions has become a modern classic. His influence on philosophy, social science, historiography, feminism, theology, and (of course) the natural sciences themselves is unparalleled. His epoch-making concepts of ‘new paradigm’ and ‘scientific revolution’ make him probably the most influential scholar of the twentieth century.

Sharrock and Read take the reader through Kuhn's work in a careful and accessible way, emphasizing Kuhn's detailed studies of the history of science, which often assist the understanding of his more abstract philosophical work. These historical studies provide vital insight into what Kuhn was actually trying to achieve in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: an endeavour far less extreme than either his ‘foes’ or his ‘fans’ claim. In the book's second half, Sharrock and Read provide excellent explications, defences and, where appropriate, criticisms of Kuhn's central concept of ‘incommensurability’, and tackle head on the crucial issue of whether Kuhn's insights concerning the natural sciences can be extrapolated to other disciplines, such as the social sciences.

This is the first comprehensive introduction to the work of Kuhn and it will be of particular interest to students and scholars in philosophy, theory of science, management science and anthropology.


Abbreviations for Kuhn's Works.

Introduction: The Legendary Thomas Kuhn.

Part I Exposition.

1 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

2 The Historical Case Studies.

Part II Critical Issues.

3 Kuhn and the Methodologists of Science.

4 Incommensurability 1: Relativism about Truth and Meaning.

5 Incommensurability 2: World Changes.

Conclusion: The Unresolved Tension.




""As Thomas Kuhn indicated in the first sentence of his great book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, his aim was to “produce a decisive transformation in the image of science by which we are now possessed”. Unfortunately, many of Kuhn's readers have been possessed by a distorted image of Kuhn's own position, and so failed to appreciate the signal contribution he made to our understanding of scientific practice. Sharrock and Read aim to do for our image of Kuhn what Kuhn did for our image of science. They succeed brilliantly, giving a wonderfully insightful and nuanced account of what Kuhn was up to and what he achieved."" Peter Lipton, University of Cambridge

  • First sympathetic book length treatment of the entirety of Kuhn's lifework in English

  • Ideal for newcomers to Kuhn - written in a clear and accessible way

  • Provides a balanced impression of the work of Kuhn and criticises as well as praises his work

  • Tackles the crucial issue of whether Kuhn's insights concerning the natural sciences can be extrapolated to other disciplines