By Robert J. Richards, Lorraine Daston

Thomas S. Kuhn’s The constitution of clinical Revolutions used to be a watershed occasion whilst it was once released in 1962, upending the former knowing of technological know-how as a sluggish, logical accumulation of proof and introducing, with the idea that of the “paradigm shift,” social and mental concerns into the center of the medical method. greater than fifty years after its ebook, Kuhn’s paintings maintains to persuade thinkers in quite a lot of fields, together with scientists, historians, and sociologists. it really is transparent that The constitution of medical Revolutions itself marks no much less of a paradigm shift than these it describes. In Kuhn’s “Structure of clinical Revolutions” at Fifty, top social scientists and philosophers discover the origins of Kuhn’s masterwork and its legacy fifty years on. those essays exhume very important historic context for Kuhn’s paintings, severely studying its foundations in twentieth-century technological know-how, politics, and Kuhn’s personal highbrow biography: his stories as a physics graduate scholar, his shut courting with psychologists earlier than and after the e-book of constitution, and the chilly struggle framework of phrases akin to “world view” and “paradigm.”

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Kuhn pursued these quantities theoretically, appropriately enough—Van Vleck had literally written the textbook on the subject. Of his own original contributions to the field, Van Vleck said he had been well positioned for the work, since he had already written a thesis on magnetism for Percy Bridgman and even tried his hand on calculating these quantities using the old quantum theory. When Van Vleck finally reckoned the dielectric constants using the full-on quantum mechanics of 1926, he was one of a (small) crowd able to apply the theory in this domain.

Whether or not the assembled scholars suspected the highly politicized matrix from which Kuhn’s central ideas and early terminology were born, this history has remained relatively invisible. Notes 1. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, introduction by Ian Hacking, 4th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 1. 2. , 1. 3. Thomas Kuhn, “A Discussion with Thomas Kuhn,” in The Road since Structure, ed. James Conant and John Haugeland (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 276; see also 280.

3 Van Vleck, an American pioneer of the new quantum physics, never lost his sense that there was another physics, a more powerful, deeper going, more original science of the quantum that was taking place in Europe under the steering of Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, and Erwin Schrödinger. ”4 Magnetic susceptibility was how magnetized a substance would become in response to a given magnetic field; electric susceptibility was how electrically polarized something became in a given electric field. Kuhn pursued these quantities theoretically, appropriately enough—Van Vleck had literally written the textbook on the subject.

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Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions at Fifty: Reflections on a Science Classic by Robert J. Richards, Lorraine Daston


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