Views
3 years ago

Kuhn vs Popper - About James H. Collier

Kuhn vs Popper - About James H. Collier

(allegedly) try to

(allegedly) try to demystify the natural sciences’claims to epistemic authority. In response toWhiggish tales of inevitable progress that suppressdivergence and disagreement, they advance aplurality of parallel ‘subaltern’ accounts that aim toundermine science’s narrative finality. It wasexactly this sort of hostile engagement that madeKuhn suspicious, and sometimes even disparaging,of the entire field of science studies, despite his ownstatus as its mythical progenitor.But even if Kuhn’s postmodernist admirers failedto meet the master’s strict segregationism, they stillkept to Kuhn’s dualistic vision of the history ofscience. But is there a missing third way? Yes. It isthe attitude toward history exemplified by Popperand his followers. They have not been afraid toproffer master narratives. However, instead ofWhiggish tales of vindication, these are tales told byhistory’s losers, specifically those dispossessed of acommon legacy, the Whig’s litigious sibling, asit were. In deference to the monarchist partyvanquished by the Whigs, Tory history is the namegiven to this third way overlooked by both Kuhnand the postmodernists.To the Tory mind, the actual history of sciencehas produced sub-optimal outcomes, a source ofcontinual disappointment at opportunities lostand potential unrealised in a story for which the96

narrator considers herself at least partly responsible;hence, her criticism is always a form of selfcriticism.The ancient Greek paradigm of Toryhistory, Thucydides, was himself an Atheniangeneral who went down to defeat early in the warthat would eventually bring down Athens itself.Lakatos notoriously signalled the Tory sensibility inthe philosophy of science by placing the normativelydesirable course of history in the main bodyof his own text, while relegating the actual historyto the footnotes. Such a posture irritated Kuhn, whowas keen to let the history speak for itself, and hasbefuddled postmodernists, who generally expectthe voice of resistance to come from a victim of thepower structure, not a disinherited member ofthe élite.Clearly, both Whigs and Tories have treated thepast less as foreign lands for professional historiansto colonise than as raw material out of which thepresent has been constructed for better or worse –which is to say, legitimately or illegitimately. Inthe Cold War era, Whig histories loomed large inthe competing accounts of the Global March ofCapitalism and Communism, where the one isportrayed as a temporary obstacle to be overcomebefore the triumph of the other. But Tory historieswere in evidence as well.The Tory counterpart of Communist97

Steve Fuller. Kuhn vs. Popper - The Canadian Journal of Sociology ...
The Normative Structure of Science - About James H. Collier
Philosophy of the Social Sciences - About James H. Collier - Virginia ...
"Philosophy Bro: Is-Ought Problem". - About James H. Collier