CSS Colloquium: K. Brad Wray, CSS, AU
Thomas Kuhn, the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and the Logical Positivists
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Logical Positivism was the dominant philosophy of science in America when Kuhn wrote Structure. Insofar as Kuhn purports to be offering “a decisive transformation in the image of science by which we are now possessed”, it is natural to think that the book might contain arguments explicitly directed against Logical Positivism (see Kuhn 1962/2012, 1). But in fact, this is not what we find. There are surprisingly few explicit references to anyone associated with Logical Positivism. Nonetheless, I believe that Logical Positivism did have an impact on Kuhn as he worked on Structure. This is most obvious in Kuhn’s unpublished Lowell Lectures where he explicitly discusses views widely associated with Logical Positivism. Significantly, part of the argument from the Lowell Lectures is integrated into Kuhn's paradigm concept, which he developed only later, in the mid- to late-1950s.