Kuhn and the Contemporary Realism/Anti-realism Debates

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Thomas Kuhn was never a key player in the contemporary realism/anti-realism debates, the debates that gained momentum around 1980 or so, with the publication of Bas van Fraassen’s Scientific Image and Larry Laudan’s “Confutation of Convergent Realism”. But I argue that Kuhn had a significant influence on these debates. Kuhn played a significant role in focusing philosophers’ attention on a different issue than the focus of the realism/anti-realism debates of the 1950s and 1960s. Instead of focusing on the meaning of theoretical terms, philosophers of science turned their attention to the problems raised by changes of theory. The particular shape of the contemporary debates thus owes something to the publication of Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science
Pages (from-to)72-92
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Kuhn
  • realism
  • anti-realism
  • scientific revolutions
  • theoretical terms
  • theory change


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