sep 9, 1962 - Thomas Kuhn: Born 18 Jul 1922 - Died 17 Jun 1996
Thomas Kuhn is one of the most influential scientific philosophers in the twentieth century. His book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” is to this day one of the most quoted books of science. The central concept of his work focused on the incommensurability of different paradigms of scientific thought. A paradigm is a way of thinking about something or an individual’s perspective based on their life and experiences or their needs. Kuhn believed that aspects of science could be viewed from different paradigms and that these different paradigms could not be compared to one another even though they may cover the same topic. A good example of this deals with the law of gravity. Sir Isaac Newton was able to quantify gravity mathematically and explain the force of gravity and its effects on objects of different mass. This was useful because it helped people to predict where objects such as a cannonball would land when used in war. But at the same time as Newton’s discoveries there were many who were trying to figure out what caused gravity. The theories and discoveries of these men are less known because the cause of gravity was less important than the effects of gravity. Although the effects of gravity and the cause of gravity are both about gravity, they are different paradigms and can both be accurate and therefore cannot be compared according to Thomas Kuhn.
Kuhn, T. S. (2015). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.