Thomas Kuhn and the Nature of Truth

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2008

Project Description/Abstract

In his work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn argues that science does not progress towards truth; rather, science operates under ‘paradigms’ in the sense that an accepted scientific viewpoint is a body of intertwined theoretical and methodological beliefs that delineate the relevant questions and problems for science to address. Paradigms change over time, and these paradigms are ‘incommensurable’ insofar as one paradigm may not be completely translatable (not only linguistically, but metaphysically and perceptually) into another paradigm. Since paradigms change and can be incommensurable, Kuhn maintains that changes in scientific theory does not indicate a progression towards truth. While Kuhn’s philosophy of science has become critically famous for rejecting the notion of truth from science, this project proposes to show that Kuhn’s understanding of science ultimately requires a notion of truth in order for his philosophy of science to be consistent. Further, I aim to provide a proper account of truth for Kuhn, which will allow him to say that science achieves knowledge of nature while, at the same time, science continues to operate under paradigms.

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