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Thomas Kuhn's Theory of Rationality

PIROZELLI, PAULO (2019) Thomas Kuhn's Theory of Rationality. Manuscrito, 42 (3). pp. 1-46. ISSN 0100-6045

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According to a widespread view, Thomas Kuhn’s model of scientific development would relegate rationality to a second plane, openly flirting with irrationalist positions. The intent of this article is to clarify this aspect of his thinking and refute this common interpretation. I begin by analysing the nature of values in Kuhn’s model and how they are connected to rationality. For Kuhn, a theory is chosen rationally when: i) the evaluation is based on values characteristic of science; ii) a theory is considered better the more it manifests these values; and iii) the scientist chooses the best-evaluated theory. The second part of this article deals with the thesis of the variability of values. According to Kuhn, the examples through which epistemic values are presented vary for each person, and for this reason individuals interpret these criteria differently. Consequently, two scientists, using the same values, can come to a rational disagreement over which theory to choose. Finally, I point out the limitations of this notion of rationality for the explanation of consensus formation, and the corresponding demand for a sociological theory that reconnects individual rationality with convergence of opinions.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
PIROZELLI, PAULO0000-0002-4714-287X
Keywords: Thomas Kuhn; Philosophy of Science; Rationality; Values
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Epistemology
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Depositing User: Dr. Paulo Pirozelli
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2020 14:09
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2020 14:09
Item ID: 17536
Journal or Publication Title: Manuscrito
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1590/0100-6045.2019.V42N3.PP
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Epistemology
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Date: July 2019
Page Range: pp. 1-46
Volume: 42
Number: 3
ISSN: 0100-6045

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