The Problem of Kuhnian Rationality

TitleThe Problem of Kuhnian Rationality
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsDe Langhe, R

According to Thomas Kuhn (1962/1970), science is characterized by two levels, one within and one between paradigms. The problem of Kuhnian rationality concerns the choice between paradigms, for which no rational basis appears to exist because this choice is inevitably circular to some extent. This is the main reason why Kuhn's view is perceived to glorify irrationality. (ibid. 199) I present two interpretations of the problem of Kuhnian rationality, one based on concepts (the neo-positivist interpretation) and one based on values. I also describe two notions of rationality, optimizing and satisficing. Neither interpretation supports the notion of optimizing, but the values-interpretation supports satisficing, suggesting that if Kuhnian scientists are rational, as Kuhn insisted, they are satisficers. An agent-based model demonstrates that aggregating the behaviour of satisficing agents can account for Kuhn's view on the dynamics of scientific change.

Citation KeyDeLanghe2012
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