HPS Speaker - George Reisch. "Spies, Mobs, Conversions, and Paradigms: On the Origins and Receptions of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"

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Location: 106 O'Shaughnessy

"Spies, Mobs, Conversions, and Paradigms: On the Origins and Receptions of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"

Abstract: In 1962, the first sentence of Thomas Kuhn's enormously influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions announced that "History" had the power to revolutionize our understanding of science. I will argue quite differently: that examining the history of the cold war, and Kuhn's experience of it, has the power to deepen our understanding of this book and its first reception by prominent European philosophical critics. Kuhn's complex relationship to his mentor James Bryant Conant, the nation's concerns over Communist faculty and domestic spies, and its postwar relationships to its European allies together help explain why Imre Lakatos, Karl Popper, and others recoiled from Kuhn's new image of science as a kind of "mob rule" and took his "normal science" to be an image not of science but of American, postwar cultural hegemony.

 

George Reisch is an American philosopher and teacher. He is the author of How the Cold War Transformed Philosophy of Science (Cambridge University Press, 2005), and is currently working on a book specifically about the development of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Reisch teaches in Northwestern’s School of Continuing Studies. He is the series editor for the Popular Culture and Philosophy series published by Open Court, and has contributed articles to, and edited several books in this series, including Radiohead and Philosophy: Fitter, Happier, More Deductive, and Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think!. He is managing editor and webmaster of the long-running philosophy journal, The Monist.

For more information, see http://georgereisch.com