Kuhn vs. Popper

The Struggle for the Soul of Science

Steve Fuller

Columbia University Press

Kuhn vs. Popper

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Pub Date: December 2004

ISBN: 9780231134286

160 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $32.00

Kuhn vs. Popper

The Struggle for the Soul of Science

Steve Fuller

Columbia University Press

Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions has sold over a million copies in more than twenty languages and has remained one of the ten most cited academic works for the past half century. In contrast, Karl Popper's seminal book The Logic of Scientific Discovery has lapsed into relative obscurity. Although the two men debated the nature of science only once, the legacy of this encounter has dominated intellectual and public discussions on the topic ever since.

Almost universally recognized as the modern watershed in the philosophy of science, Kuhn's relativistic vision of shifting paradigms—which asserted that science was just another human activity, like art or philosophy, only more specialized—triumphed over Popper's more positivistic belief in science's revolutionary potential to falsify society's dogmas. But has this victory been beneficial for science? Steve Fuller argues that not only has Kuhn's dominance had an adverse impact on the field but both thinkers have been radically misinterpreted in the process. This debate raises a vital question: Can science remain an independent, progressive force in society, or is it destined to continue as the technical wing of the military-industrial complex? Drawing on original research—including the Kuhn archives at MIT—Fuller offers a clear account of "Kuhn vs. Popper" and what it will mean for the future of scientific inquiry.

This is an eloquently written book, offering new and interesting perspectives on the moral and social ramifications of this debate.

Ray Percival, New Scientist

A succinct yet in-depth inquiry into a significant philosophical issue.


Reading Steve Fuller is like reading Umberto Eco on speed.

Jeff Hughes, University of Manchester

It's a fascinating and, at 132 pages, delightfully concise work.

Gregory Mone, Popular Science

A feisty and rich little book...always stimulating

A. C. Grayling, Financial Times

This slight volume is a lively, incisive volume...This volume will be of great interest both to academic specialists and general readers...Recommended.


Kuhn vs. Popper is a concise and engaging book that philosophers of science, investigators of political thought and, indeed, laymen with a philosophical interest will find an interesting read.

Milja Kurki, History of Political Thought

Provocative and brilliant.

Neil McLaughlin, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online

A provocative read.

Robert J. Deltete, Philosophy In Review
In Search of the Causes of a Non-Event
Kuhn and Popper: A Case of Mistaken Identities
Popperian Suspicions and Kuhnian Vindication
We've Been Here Before: The Prehistory of the Debate
Dialectics as the Pulse of Scientific Progress
A Parting Shot at the Misunderstanding
Why Philosophers Get No Respect from Scientists
So, Why Are Philosophers of Science Pro-Science?
The Return of the Repressed: Philosophers as Tory Historians of Science
The Religious Unconscious of the Debate
Do We Believe by Evidence or by Decision? A Very Short History of Epistemology
The University as the Absent Presence of the Kuhn–Popper Debate
Popper and Adorno United: The Rationalist Left at Positivism's Wake
Popper and Adorno Divided: The Rationalist Left Haunted by Historicism
How to be Responsible for Ideas—the Popperian Way
Failing the Popperian Test for Intellectual Responsibility: Rorty on Heidegger
Is Thomas Kuhn the American Heidegger?

About the Author

Steve Fuller is professor of sociology at the University of Warwick, England, and the author of Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times.