Kuhn’s Influence on the Social Sciences

Authored by: K. Brad Wray

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138825758
eBook ISBN: 9781315410098
Adobe ISBN: 9781315410081


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Perhaps no philosopher has had a greater influence on the social sciences than Thomas Kuhn. This is ironic because in Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn set out to develop an understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and scientific inquiry in the natural sciences. He did not discuss the social sciences at all, except to note in the Preface that it was while working at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences surrounded by social scientists that he hit upon the “paradigm concept,” noting that paradigms are largely absent in the social sciences (see Kuhn 2012, xlii). But with its many suggestive metaphors Structure resonated with social scientists, providing exciting insights into their own fields of study.

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