Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Kuhn and His Critics (Balestra)

PHIL 7570 Kuhn and His Critics                                                        Spring 2012, Thursday, 4-6pm                                                                             Dr. Balestra  voice -3271


            It will be fifty years since Thomas Kuhn first published his seminal and revolutionary book in the history and philosophy of science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Kuhn’s work influences, even haunts, almost every field of intellectual inquiry in our time.  His influence on philosophy, social science, historiography, feminism, theology and, of course, philosophy of science is unparalleled.  This course will be organized around Kuhn's challenge to scientific rationality and scientific realism, some important early criticisms--I. Scheffler, D.Shapere, Karl Popper and other Popperians, some later critics and then some of Kuhn’s later responses in his posthumously published The Road Since Structure.  More than any other work in the philosophy of science Kuhn’s Structure effectively presented the central challenge to the reigning ideal of an ahistorical, theory-neutral scientific rationality and realism.  The latter opens up the question of whether the epistemic values intrinsic to science remain apart from its historical situation or other extrinsic social-political dimensions. Thus, the post-Kuhn challenge in philosophy of science may be set out as an initial question concerning the rationality of science, that then generates a fundamental question of history, reason and realism.  In spite of good attempts to handle the initial question, no universally accepted paradigm of the rationality of science has emerged today.  Prior to reading Kuhn’s The Structure,  we will  set the context by reading some Hemple (on eres), Popper (on eres), then the Popperian criticism’s in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge with Kuhn’s response.  to set out the full problematic.  This will be followed by seminar presentations on selected readings from other critics and from Kuhn’s  The Road Since Structure on the relation and role of history to science, realism and/or the philosophy of science.  The latter selections will be given at our first class meeting.


Course Texts: required

T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Univ. of Chicago Press 2nd 1970 or 3rd edition)

I Lakatos and I. Musgrave, Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (C. U. P.., 1970)

T. Kuhn,  The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change (UCP, 1977)

T. Kuhn, The Road Since Structure (UCP, 2000)

Selected readings from Hempel, Popper, Schefler and others (on reserve or eres)

Recommended:  G. Gutting, Ed., Paradigms & Revolutions: Applications and Appraisals of Thomas Kuhn’s Philosophy of Science (UND, 1980)


Course Requirements:

Course readings and class participation, leading one class seminar (or two depending on the number in the class) on a scheduled reading later in thesemester.  The schedule will be established after our first class meeting, January 19, 2012).

Short essay (5pp) on Kuhn’s SSR. (due c. Feb. 9th)

Term paper on a topic developed in the course  DUE c. MAY 7th


Any questions ask Dr. B. 

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