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The question of paradigms in the structure of scientific revolutions of Thomas Kuhn

Grant number: 19/22424-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2020
Effective date (End): February 28, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Epistemology
Principal Investigator:Silvio Seno Chibeni
Grantee:Ana Clarice Rodrigues Costa
Home Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


The central philosophical element in Thomas Kuhn's classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) is the concept of paradigm. Nevertheless after its publication, the use of the word 'paradigm' generated a flood of doubts and criticisms on the nature, usefulness and the polysemic character of this term. In the last paragraph of Chapter IX of the Structure, Kuhn wrote that the concept of paradigm had, up to that point, been articulated as a constitutive element in science and in the scientific communities; but that from then on, he would explore the role of paradigms in the constitution of the natural world itself. The present study aims to investigate this intriguing thesis, trying to clarify how exactly Kuhn understood and defended it in the final chapters of the Structure; how he apparently distanced himself, in later writings, from the extreme, relativistic interpretive possibilities identified by both his critics and sympathizers; and what are the moderate alternatives that have been proposed by others authors. It also proposes to examine the current debate about this thesis half a century after its appearance, which seems to have gained some autonomy from Kuhn's work, being sometimes discussed in relation to epistemological and metaphysical classical approaches developed outside the specific circle of the philosophy of science. (AU)