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, 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 will be discussed in relation 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. For a free copy of the book or to receive more information, please contact director@binst.org.

Dates: Monday evenings on 11.6, 11.13, 11.27, 12.4

Time: 6:00-7:30pm

Reading Schedule:

Week 1: Kuhn chapter 1 and Karl Popper “Conjectures and Refutations” sections 1-3,5,7.
Week 2: Kuhn chapters 2-4
Week 3: Kuhn chapters 6, 8
Week 4: Kuhn chapters 10, 12

Karl van Bibber
Professor of Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley

Jonathan Kohler
Doctoral candidate in Physics at UC Berkeley

Ravit Dotan
Doctoral candidate in Philosophy at UC Berkeley