Interpreting Thomas Kuhn as a Response-Dependence Theorist

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 19 (5):729 - 752 (2011)
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Abstract

Abstract Thomas Kuhn is the most famous historian and philosopher of science of the last century. He is also among the most controversial. Since Kuhn's death, his corpus has been interpreted, systematized, and defended. Here I add to this endeavor in a novel way by arguing that Kuhn can be interpreted as a global response-dependence theorist. He can be understood as connecting all concepts and terms in an a priori manner to responses of suitably situated subjects to objects in the world. Further, I claim, this interpretation is useful for three reasons. First, it allows us to systematize and defend Kuhn's views. We can therefore better appreciate him as a thinker in his own right. Second, it deepens our understanding of both the uniqueness of Kuhn's views and the continuity of those views with those of others. We can therefore better appreciate his place in history. And third, as I explain in the paper, my interpretation affords us the only example of an ethnocentric global response-dependence theory. We can therefore better appreciate the versatility of response-dependence itself.

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Nathaniel Goldberg
Washington and Lee University