Looking twice at the history of science

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kuhn's Big Picture I: from the Harvard Case Study to the Berkeley Survey

This post is a follow-up to my account of Kuhn's internalism. There will be at least two more posts in this series on Kuhn's historiographical legacy.

What did Thomas Kuhn take from his experience as a teacher of history of science? And what has he taught historians of science? The standard answer to the first question revolves around the "Harvard case method." Answers to the second question usually refer to the sociology of science, integrated HPS, and the rejection of cumulative narratives. What these answers overlook is our debt to Kuhn's influential big picture of modern physical science, which emerged not from case studies he developed at Harvard but a survey course he taught at Berkeley. Expand post.