Disciplines

Continental Philosophy | Philosophy of Science | Political Theory | Politics and Social Change | Science and Technology Studies | Sociology of Culture | Theory, Knowledge and Science

Abstract

In a journal issue dedicated to a discussion of Steve Fuller's Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times, I argue that Kuhn’s limited acknowledgment of Fleck’s influence on his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was due to a foundational incommensurability between the standard conceptual framework for philosophical studies of science and Fleck’s historico-social and praxis-oriented approach to scientific progress. The incommensurability in question constituted an insurmountable tension between the kind of language and thinking manifest in Fleck’s study and the conceptual language evident in Kuhn and characteristic of one might still call the received view’ in philosophy of science. This (ongoing) ‘reception’ of ideas and language is the reason Fuller attributes the language of ‘incommensurability’ (or the talk of different ‘worlds’) in the philosophy of science to C.I. Lewis’s tacit influence. Maintaining that scientific truth is ineluctably social, Fleck takes the disciplinary relevance of sociology of knowledge to be no less central to an understanding of science than history itself. Yet adverting to the sociology of science (in particular) or else (more broadly) to the history of science compounds the troubles of incommensurability.

 
 

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