Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Bojana Mladenović (2022)
This book contains the text of Thomas Kuhn's unfinished book, The Plurality of Worlds: An Evolutionary Theory of Scientific Development, which Kuhn himself described as "a return to the central claims of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and the problems that it raised but did not resolve." The Plurality of Worlds is preceded by two related texts that Kuhn publicly delivered but never published in English: his paper "Scientific Knowledge as a Historical Product" and his Shearman Memorial Lectures, "The Presence of Past Science." The book opens with an introduction by the editor that describes the origins and structure of The Plurality of Worlds, and sheds light on its central philosophical problems. Kuhn's aims in his last writings are bold. He sets out to develop an empirically grounded theory of meaning that would allow him to make sense of both the possibility of historical understanding and the inevitability of incommensurability between past and present science. Moreover, he intends to show that incommensurability is fully compatible with a robust notion of a real world that science investigates, with the rationality of scientific belief change, and with the idea that scientific development is progressive. This is a must-read follow-up to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, one of the most important books of the twentieth century.