Kuhn organized his 1969 “Postcript” to Structures of Scientific Revolutions around three aspects of “paradigms”: (1) Paradigms as community structure, (2) Paradigms as the constellation of group commitments, also spoken of as a “disciplinary “matrix”, and (3) as the “central element” of novelty in Structures, paradigms as shared examples. This chapter is concerned only with (3), paradigms as shared examples (or, as Kuhn sometimes preferred, exemplars). The premise of the chapter is that no one has given a satisfactory analysis of Kuhn’s idea of a paradigm as example, and it explores some of the theoretical difficulties that have made such an account elusive. This discussion is embedded within more general (mostly “Western”-focused) reflections on the history of reasoning and the use of examples in argument, with illustrations ranging from Aristotle’s paradeigma in Rhetoric to Kuhn himself and other figures in 20th century philosophy.
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