The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

When Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientifc Revolutions appeared in 1962, it offered a radically new perspective on the history of science. It challenged the prevailing view that science develops by “accumulation” and argued instead that the history of science is marked by revolutionary “paradigm shifts.” In this seminar we will read selections from Kuhn’s seminal book and related readings, meeting to discuss its implications for the practice of science and the evolution of scientific knowledge. The readings will develop a model for scientific revolutions from historical developments in the physical sciences, which are relevant to on-going revolutions within a variety of scientific disciplines, including geology, cosmology, genetics, and neuroscience. Together, we will examine the stages in the “life” of scientific ideas alongside a brief history of the scientists who shaped them. We will also discuss what, if anything, makes scientific inquiry distinct from other methods of knowing. For a free copy of the book or to receive more information, please contact

Dates: Monday evenings on 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24

Time: 5:30-7:00pm

Reading Schedule:

Week 1: Kuhn chapter 1 and Karl Popper Logic of Scientific Discovery, sections 1.2, 1.3, 1.8.
Week 2: Kuhn chapters 2, 3, 10.
Week 3: Kuhn chapters 6, 8, 12
Week 4: Kuhn chapter 4 and Thomas Kuhn, “The Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research?”

Karl van Bibber
Professor of Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley





Elliot Rossomme
Doctoral candidate in Physical Chemistry at UC Berkeley