Thomas S. Kuhn, both in his Second Thoughts on Paradigms [1971] and in the Postscript to the second edition of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions [1970], refers to someone who found 22 different uses of the term "paradigm".

On the other hand, Margaret Masterman few years before drew up an index which showed 21 uses of "paradigm", saying that they could be even more than 21 (see M.Masterman, The Nature of a Paradigm, in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge - Proceedings of the International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, London, 1965).

Is Kuhn referring to M.Masterman's analysis? If so, why does he mention 22 different uses of paradigm instead than 21? Or is Kuhn referring to another critic?

  • 2
    I suppose that there is no relevant difference... See Thomas Kuhn, The Road since Structure : Philosophical Essays. 1970-1993, The University of Chicago Press (2000), page 299 : "What about Masterman's twenty-one uses ? " (see Part Three: A Discussion with Thomas S. Kuhn). Jun 25, 2018 at 9:50
  • See also M.Masterman, page 61 : "On my counting, he uses ‘paradigm’ in not less than twenty-one different senses in his [1962], possibly more, not less." Jun 25, 2018 at 10:54

1 Answer 1


Quoting from Thomas Kuhn's 2000 book, "The Road since Structure: Philosophical Essays. 1970-1993":

V. KINDI: What about Masterman's twenty-one uses? ^24

  1. M. Masterman, "The Nature of a Paradigm," in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge: Proceedings of the International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, London 1965, vol. 4, ed. I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 59-89.

T. KUHN: All right, I'll tell you a story. This story comes from a little later day. There was an International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science held at Bedford College, London. The Proceedings appeared in a volume titled Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. At that meeting I read a paper, Popper was in the Chair and Watkins commented on the paper and there was to have been further discussion, on the original plan for what was going to happen. One of the people who had been invited to participate in this further discussion was Margaret Masterman---whom I'd never met [...]. She got up at the back of the room in the discussion, strode toward the podium, turned to face the audience, put her hands in her pockets and proceeded to say, "In my sciences, in the social sciences" (she was running something called the Cambridge Language Lab), "everybody is talking about paradigms. That's the word." And she said, "I was recently in hospital and I went through the book and I think I found twenty-one," twenty-three, whatever, "different uses of it." And, you know, they are there. But she went on to say, and this is the thing that people don't know, although it's more or less in her article, "And I think I know what a paradigm is." And she proceeded to list four or five characteristics of a paradigm. And I sat there, I said, my God, if I had talked for an hour and a half I might have gotten these all in, or I might not have. But she's got it right! And the thing I particularly remember, and I can't make it work quite but it's very deeply to the point: a paradigm is what you use when the theory isn't there. And she and I interacted then, during the rest of my stay, quite a lot.

The Road since Structure p. 299-300

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