Kuhn and conceptual change: on the analogy between conceptual changes in science and children
journal contributionposted on 27.02.2014, 13:42 by Christian Greiffenhagen, Wendy Sherman
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
This article argues that the analogy between conceptual changes in the history of science and conceptual changes in the development of young children is problematic. We show that the notions of ‘conceptual change’ in Kuhn and Piaget’s projects, the two thinkers whose work is most commonly drawn upon to support this analogy, are not compatible in the sense usually claimed. We contend that Kuhn’s work pertains not so much to the psychology of individual scientists, but to the way philosophers and historians should describe developments in communities of scientists. Furthermore, we argue that the analogy is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of science and the relation between science and common sense. The distinctiveness of the two notions of conceptual change has implications for science education research, since it raises serious questions about the relevance of Kuhn’s remarks for the study of pedagogical issues.
- Social Sciences
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