UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The troubled meeting of Richard Rorty and Thomas Kuhn Foulkes, Erica


The philosopher Richard Rorty counts himself among the supporters of Thomas Kuhn, who has done extensive and important work in the history and philosophy of science. Rorty bases his support on a number of similarities which he sees between his own work and that of Kuhn. My intention in this thesis has been to demonstrate the distinct lack of similarity between the work of Rorty and that of Kuhn. It is my contention that Rorty's belief in the sympathy between their respective programmes is misguided, being grounded in Rorty's misunderstanding of a considerable number of elements in Kuhn's programme, as well as the intent with which it was offered. The first chapter is an exegesis of Rorty's general philosophy of culture, moving into a more specific exegetical look at Rorty's references to Kuhn's work. The second chapter provides an extensive outline of Kuhn's historically sensitive examination of the philosophy of science. The third chapter engages in a discussion and analysis of comments which Rorty has made concerning Kuhn's work and the ways in which it relates to his own, encompassing both similarities and differences. I believe that I have shown that Thomas Kuhn's work in the history and philosophy of science is not at all applicable to the sort of cultural programme which Rorty is offering, in terms of scope, intent, and fundamental content.

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