Thomas Kuhn’s Philosophy of the History of Science

Alexander J Bird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


In this article I argue that Kuhn was a historicist in two respects. First, he was a conservative in Mannheim’s sense—tradition is important for understanding scientific change, and the evaluation of a scientific idea is relative to historical context. Secondly, Kuhn embraced determinism—there is a pattern to scientific change, akin to laws of scientific development. I show that Kuhn’s determinism requires that he is an internalist about the causes of scientific change; Kuhn’s internalism contrasts with the externalism that characterises much post-Kuhnian science studies. I conclude by considering how Kuhn’s historicism relates to the philosophical purposes of Kuhn’s history of science.
Translated title of the contributionThomas Kuhn’s Philosophy of the History of Science
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)167-185
Number of pages19
JournalDiscusiones Filosóficas
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • determinism, externalism, historicism, internalism, Kuhn


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