1st Edition

Beyond Kuhn Scientific Explanation, Theory Structure, Incommensurability and Physical Necessity

By Edwin H.-C. Hung Copyright 2005

    Thomas Kuhn's celebrated work, 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' revolutionized thinking in the philosophy of science and to a large extent his 'paradigm shift' view has replaced logical positivism and the philosophy of Karl Popper. This book goes beyond Kuhn by explicating the non-deductive notion of 'paradigm shift' in terms of the new concept of representational space. In doing so, Edwin H.-C. Hung is able to produce the first-ever unitary theory that solves the five central problems in the philosophy of science: scientific explanation, the structure of scientific theories, incommensurability, scientific change and physical necessity. The book identifies the main task of science as representing reality. This involves the construction of a representational space and the subsequent modeling of reality with configurations of 'objects' in that space. Newton's mechanics, Einstein's relativity and quantum mechanics, then, all serve as representational spaces. 'Beyond Kuhn' is a significant progression in scientific methodology. Other than serving as a sequel to Kuhn's 'Scientific Revolutions', it will be of great use in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology and education.

    Contents: Foreword I, Rom Harré; Foreword II, Peter Lipton; Preface; Introduction: The road to Kuhn and beyond; A new logic of explanation; Structure of conceptual theories I: category systems; Structure of conceptual theories II: representational spaces; Structure of conceptual theories III: languages; Incommensurability; Scientific growth; Physical necessity: a cross-theoretic notion; Projective explanation: deduction lost, deduction regained; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.


    Edwin H.-C. Hung is Reader/Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. He studied philosophy at Oxford University, where he obtained his doctoral degree (D.Phil.). He has been an honorary fellow of Linacre College (Oxford), a research associate at the Center of Philosophy and History of Science of Boston University, and a visiting scholar at Harvard University, MIT, and the Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science. He has published widely in the fields of philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of logic and philosophy of language, including the book, The Nature of Science: Problems and Perspectives (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1997, 502 pages).

    'Edwin Hung aims to provide a kind of successor text to Thomas Kuhn's famous and notorious "Structure of Scientific Revolutions", and one that provides a unitary account of diverse topics in the philosophy of science, including the structure of scientific theories and the nature of scientific explanation, scientific change, incommensurability, and physical necessity. Hung develops some central features of Kuhn's account of science into a distinctive position that addresses central topics in the philosophy of science and that will be of very considerable interest to Kuhnian and anti-Kuhnian alike.' Professor Peter Lipton, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge 'In this path-breaking book, Edwin Hung challenges a common view of Kuhnian paradigms as subjectivist and relativist. In its place he develops an objectivist and rationalist account of paradigm shifts drawing on the idea of representational spaces found in AI. This, with other original theses, puts our Kuhnian legacy in a fruitful, new perspective.' Professor Robert Nola, Department of Philosophy, The University of Auckland 'The possibility of providing a formal account of theory construction as model making has been abandoned by many philosophers of science, but this subtly worked out study shows that it can be given a new life and a new power to bring a deeper understanding of the sciences.' Rom Harré, Georgetown University, USA