Kuhn's Evolutionary Social Epistemology

Kuhn's Evolutionary Social Epistemology

Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) has been enduringly influential in philosophy of science, challenging many common presuppositions about the nature of science and the growth of scientific knowledge. However, philosophers have misunderstood Kuhn's view, treating him as a relativist or social constructionist. In this book, Brad Wray argues that Kuhn provides a useful framework for developing an epistemology of science that takes account of the constructive role that social factors play in scientific inquiry. He examines the core concepts of Structure and explains the main characteristics of both Kuhn's evolutionary epistemology and his social epistemology, relating Structure to Kuhn's developed view presented in his later writings. The discussion includes analyses of the Copernican revolution in astronomy and the plate tectonics revolution in geology. The book will be useful for scholars working in science studies, sociologists and historians of science as well as philosophers of science.


"K. Brad Wray admirably succeeds in explaining in a coherent way Thomas Kuhn’s view of scientific development. He shows us how a sympathetic dispute with the sociology of science paves the way for a social epistemology that deserves its name. He also shows us clearly how a theory of scientific development that features revolutions is nevertheless evolutionary. A splendid book!"
Professor Dr Paul Hoyningen-Huene, Leibniz Universität Hannover

"Wray’s monograph fills an important gap in the literature on Kuhn by clarifying and defending Kuhn’s epistemology of science as it was developed in his later work, and by showing how it relates to recent work in sociology of science and science studies. Wray offers many important insights drawn from his re-examination of Kuhn’s social epistemology while at the same time pointing to new areas of research that philosophers need to pursue."
Hanne Andersen, Aarhus University, Denmark

"… the book presents a theoretically mature interpretation of the work of Thomas Kuhn. Its originality comes from the articulation of the alternative research agenda embodied in Kuhn's work and the fact the author does this by drawing on often-neglected material, such as Kuhn's much less popular later work and empirical results from the sociology of science. Most importantly, Wray shows that specialization can function as a bridge between the epistemic and the social …"
Rogier De Langhe, Tilburg University (TiLPS), Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Brad Wray revisits Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in light of Kuhn’s later essays to offer a novel reading of Kuhn’s account as a ‘evolutionary social epistemology’ and, in so doing, provides a useful overview of the interpretive debates surrounding Kuhn’s work, defends Kuhn successfully against critics, and suggests interesting future directions for sociology and philosophy of science …"
Rupert Read and Jessica Woolley, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

"Of interest to the generalist is KESE’s account of Kuhn’s later view in terms of taxonomic lexicons, incommensurability, and epistemology of science and its relationship to sociology of science and science studies. Of interest to the specialist is KESE’s account of Kuhn on the success of science in terms of specialization of science as both social and epistemic …"
Francis Remedios, Philosophy in Review

"Well written, clear, and carefully argued, Kuhn’s Evolutionary Social Epistemology will be most useful and insightful reading for all those interested in the relevance of Kuhn’s philosophy for science studies … it has the merit of raising a number of interesting questions on the development of Kuhn’s philosophy, as well as calling for new readings of his works, especially the later and considerably less studied ones …"
Stefano Gattei, Isis

"… Wray’s book is a rich and stimulating guide, one that caused me to rethink my own take on Kuhn and the issues that his work has raised for us. Both science studies professionals and more general readers will find much of value here."
Tom Nickles, University of Nevada, Metascience Review

"… of interest to philosophers, sociologists, scientists, historians of science, and scholars working in science studies … Wray has the ability to write in a clear and accessible way … could be used as a textbook on Kuhn’s epistemology of science … a splendid book … I am convinced it will inspire many scholars and students in years to come."
Barbara G. Renzi, Queen’s University Belfast, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science

"… highly recommended … The book provides concrete points of cooperative and collaborative studies of the science of sociological and philosophical perspective …"
Markus Seidel, Rezensionen: Zeitschrift für Theoretische Soziologie