Thomas Kuhn’s theory of rationality
According to a widespread view, Thomas Kuhn’s model of scientific development would relegate rationality to a second plane, openly flirting with irrationalist positions. The intent of this article is to clarify this aspect of his thinking and refute this common interpretation. I begin by analysing the nature of values in Kuhn’s model and how they are connected to rationality. For Kuhn, a theory is chosen rationally when: i) the evaluation is based on values characteristic of science; ii) a theory is considered better the more it manifests these values; and iii) the scientist chooses the best-evaluated theory. The second part of this article deals with the thesis of the variability of values. According to Kuhn, the examples through which epistemic values are presented vary for each person, and for this reason individuals interpret these criteria differently. Consequently, two scientists, using the same values, can come to a rational disagreement over which theory to choose. Finally, I point out the limitations of this notion of rationality for the explanation of consensus formation, and the corresponding demand for a sociological theory that reconnects individual rationality with convergence of opinions.
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