Kuhn, Thomas and Scientific Paradigms

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This article describes Thomas Kuhn’s theory of science with special attention to the role played by
paradigms and paradigm changes. After discussing the ambiguities in the concept “paradigm”, it
distinguishes between three senses of paradigm: the paradigm as exemplar, the paradigm as
theory; and the paradigm as disciplinary matrix. It then examines the impact that the concepts
had in the social sciences, with special attention to sociology. Finally, it discusses Kuhn’s later
views on science, where he conceptualizes what he called paradigm changes as lexical changes. It
also discusses the fate of the paradigm concept.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology
EditorsGeorge Ritzer, Chris Rojek
Edition2nd
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Aug 2020

    Research areas

  • Thomas Kuhn, paradigms, paradigm change, scientific revolution, theory change

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