Friday Evening Lecture Series – “Is Science Revolutionary? Thomas Kuhn and the Structure of Science”

Date(s) - 07/27/2012
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Friday Evening Lecture Series – “Is Science Revolutionary? Thomas Kuhn and the Structure of Science”
Jed Z. Buchwald, California Institute of Technology and Paul Hoyningen-Huene, Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany
8:00 PM, Lillie Auditorium

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Jed Buchwald

Jed Buchwald

Paul Huene

Paul Huene

Lecture Abstract:
Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published fifty years ago this year, changed the way that many people look at science. Once, science seemed to be the constant accumulation of “facts,” with each fact a permanent addition to the body of our knowledge. A very different picture emerged from Kuhn’s historical research. Some of our theories, he said, are so fundamental and pervasive (he called these paradigms) that when they changed we had a revolution. In such times the very standards and evidence by which our science was to be measured changed as well as did the meanings of our central terms and concepts. Kuhn himself was trained as a scientist, and many scientists eagerly accepted the new picture of their enterprise. Others were horrified. The debate that ensued spread to every academic department and to the general public as well. These issues are with us still as we decide what science to fund and what to use in meeting societal needs. Our picture of science likewise guides us when we invite the public to understand and to support the best science of our time. It is fitting on the fiftieth anniversary of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that the MBL, as one of the world’s leading scientific centers, reflects on scientific revolutions to see what we have learned.

Physics historian Jed Z. Buchwald is the Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Buchwald was previously director of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology and the Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science at MIT. Dr. Buchwald received his B.A. from Princeton University, where he studied under Thomas Kuhn, and both his M.A. and Ph.D.  from Harvard University, following which he joined the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Académie Internationale d’Histoires des Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a Killam Fellow (Canada, 1990-91) and a MacArthur Fellow (1995-2000). Dr. Buchwald co-edits the journal Archive for History of Exact Sciences and the book series Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. He founded and edits the book series Archimedes and Transformations. Dr. Buchwald is the author or co-author of four books and has edited eight collections. He recently completed Newton and the Origin of Civilization with Mordechai Feingold (to be published November, 2012).

Paul Hoyningen-Huene is a theoretical physicist and philosopher who is a Professor of Philosophy and Founding Director of the Center for Philosophy and Ethics of Science at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. He specializes in the general philosophy of science, dynamics of scientific theory change, reduction and emergence, ethics of science, and metaethics. Dr. Hoyningen-Huene was previously a professor for history and philosophy of science at the University of Kons­tanz, Germany and has held positions at ETH Zurich, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Zurich, and the University of Berne. From 1984 to 1985, he was a visiting scholar at MIT, with Professor Thomas S. Kuhn. Dr. Hoyningen-Huene holds a degree in theoretical physics from University of Munich and a Ph.D. in the same field from the University of Zurich. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association, the History of Science Society, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the International Academy of Science, and the Philosophy of Science Association. Dr. Hoyningen-Huene also serves on the executive board of the General Society for Philosophy in Germany and on multiple editorial boards including Archimedes and Facta, and Philosophy of Science. His publications have been featured in many journals around the world.  He most recently finished a book manuscript with the (tentative) title: Systematicity: The Nature of Science to be published by Oxford University Press.

Dr. Jane Maienschein will introduce Drs. Buchwald and Hoyningen-Huene. Dr. Maienschein is Regents’ Professor, President’s Professor, and Parents Association Professor and Director of the Center for Biology and Society at Arizona State University. She has co-directed the History of Biology Seminar at the MBL for 25 years. She is an adjunct senior scientist at the MBL, where she directs the MBL-ASU History and Philosophy of Science Program that is part of the Center for Library and Informatics.  Dr. Maienschein specializes in the history and philosophy of biology and the way that biology plays out in society. She has received numerous awards and is committed to public education about biology and its human dimensions. Dr. Maienschein is the author and co-editor of a dozen books, many book chapters and articles including Whose View of Life? Embryos, Cloning, and Stem Cells, and three books related to MBL history: Transforming Traditions in American Developmental Biology; 100 Years Exploring Life: An Autobiography of the Marine Biological Laboratory; and Defining Biology. Lectures from the 1890s. She received a B.A. from Yale University, and a Ph.D. from Indiana University.

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