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Thomas Kuhn and "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"

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Transcript of Thomas Kuhn and "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"

Thomas Kuhn
and
"The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"

SSR
The 5 Ways
• A theory should be
empirically accurate
within its domain.
• A theory should be
consistent
with other
accepted theories
.
• A theory should be
wide in scope
and not just accommodate the facts it was designed to explain.
• A theory should be as
simple
as possible.
• A theory should be
fruitful
in the sense of providing a
framework
for ongoing research.

Critiscism on SSR

Kuhn’s work
encountered critical reception
among philosophers especially on
two areas
(Bird, 2004)
• First criticism is on
Kuhn’s account of the development of science
which is
not entirely accurate
• Second criticism
attacked on Kuhn’s notion of incommensurability
, arguing that either
it does not exist
or if it does exist,
it is not a significant problem
• Kuhn’s
view of revolutions
that are
particularly significant
and
reasonably rare
episodes in the history of science have been
questioned for its accuracy

Toulmin
(1970) argues that “a more realistic picture reveals that
revisionary changes in science
are
far more common
and correspondingly
less dramatic
than Kuhn supposes
• Perfectly ‘
normal’ science experiences
these
changes
also” (Bird, 1970, p.16)
• Kuhn has also
ignored essential discoveries
that are widely
regarded as revolutionary
such as the discovery of the
structure of DNA
and the
revolution in molecular biology
Reference
Bird
, A. (2004). Thomas Kuhn.
Bird
, A. (2012). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and its Significance: An Essay Review of the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 63(4), 859-883.
Eng
, L. (2001). The accidental rebel: Thomas Kuhn and The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Concepts in science and technology studies, 1-19.
Feyerabend
, P. (1975). Against method: Outline of an anarchistic theory of knowledge. Atlantic Highlands.
Fuller
, S. (2004). Kuhn vs. Popper: The struggle for the soul of science. Columbia University Press.
Goldberg
, N. (2011) Interpreting Thomas Kuhn as a Response- Dependence Theorist, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 19:5, 729-752.
Hattiangadi
, J. (2003). Kuhn debunked. Social epistemology, 17(2-3), 175-182.
Hoyningen-Huene,
P. (1990). Kuhn's conception of incommensurability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 21(3), 481-492.
Jarvie
, I. (2003). Fuller on Kuhn. Social epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, 17(2-3), 187-195.
Kuhn
, T. S. (1962). The Structure 1 of Scientific Revolutions, 1st ed.: Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Kuhn
, T. S. (1969). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Postscript. Book.
Kuhn
, T. S. (2012). The structure of scientific revolutions. University of Chicago press.
Presented by: Hew Teck Soon

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Mohd Hazim Shah

Introduction
Incommensurability
Kuhn vs. Popper
Criticism cont.

Thomas Samuel Kuhn
(
July 18, 1922
– June 17, 1996)
• born in Cincinnati, Ohio in a Jewish family
• obtained his
B.Sc.
(Physics),
M.Sc.
(Physics) and
Ph.D.
(Solid State Physics) in 1943, 1946 and 1949 from
Harvard University
• a
Professor of the History of Science in 1961
by the
University of California
, Berkeley
• a
trained scientist and an historian of science
(Jarvie, 2003)
• is the
most famous historian and philosopher of science
of the last century (Goldberg, 2011)
• In
1957
, he co-authored “
The Copernican Revolution
, Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought” (Kuhn and Conant, 1957)
• Kuhn’s
1962
publication of “
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
” or SSR is considered one of the most important academic books of the 20th Century (Eng, 2001)
• attempted a
debate with Popper, Lakatos and Feyerabend in 1965
during the International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science at Bedford College, London (Kuhn, 1970)
• In
1967
, he wrote a
postscript for SSR
• diagnosed with
lung cancer in 1994
and die two years later
Normal Science
• a
paradigm is created
and
researchers congregate to it
• The paradigm
gives researchers focus, direction, and coherence
• Normal science is
conducted within an established paradigm
• involves
elaborating and extending the success of the paradigm

gathering of substantial new observations
• trying to
solve minor problems
with the paradigm
• is the
puzzle solving stage
• scientists
share common agreement
in making
measurement
,
articulating theory
and
making predictions
• Examples:
• Searching for
chemical structure
of familiar
compound

Mapping of DNA
of a particular bacterium

Determining
the
paths of planets
and other heavenly bodies
Anomaly
• During the period of
normal science
, scientists
do not question the fundamental principles
• The quest of normal science
proceeds undisturbed
as long as it can
satisfactorily explain the phenomena
• Sometimes, certain
data may show refractory result
• If the scientists believe that the paradigm ought to fit the data in question, then their
confidence will be shaken
• This kind of phenomena described by the data is
regarded as anomaly
• Kuhn: The
presence of anomalies
will provide the
stimulus
for the creation of
alternative paradigms
• The occurrence of
an anomaly or two is not sufficient
to trigger
abandonment of a paradigm
• A
paradigm

is not rejected
on the basis of a
comparison
of its
consequence
and
empirical evidence
• The
rejection is based on
a three-term relation that involves an
established paradigm, a rival paradigm and the observational evidence
(Losee, 2002)

Crisis
• There are times when scientists become aware of
anomalies
that will
not disappear
no matter how
much effort has been put into
resolving them
• Even then, it will
not necessarily cause
much serious
questioning of the fundamental assumptions
of the paradigm
• But
once the number
of
serious anomalies accumulated
substantially, scientists will
start to question
some of the
core assumptions
of the paradigm
• This will lead to the
quest for a new paradigm
that involves
a novel way of thinking
about the world
• If it happens that
successful research
within the paradigm
begins to decline
, then more and more scientists may
start to focus
their attention
on the anomalies
• The
perception
that the paradigm is in “
crisis
” may
start to develop
within the scientific community

Crises
are most probably to
happen
if the
anomalies
in question appear to
directly affect the most fundamental principles
of the paradigm, or the
anomalies stand in the way of applications
of the paradigm that have specific practical importance, or if the
paradigm has been subjected to criticism
because of the
anomalies
for a
long period of time
Gestalt Shift
• If a crisis occurs, however, and if
a new paradigm is adopted
by the scientific community, then a “
revolution
” or “
paradigm shift
” has taken place

Problem
will be seen from
different perspective

New paradigms will be explored
New Paradigm
• Scientists
return to routine work

Revolution
becomes
invisible

Beginning
of another
Normal Science

Pre-Science

research
in more or less
uncontrolled

directions
within an area of study with
unclear boundaries

different competing schools
with
different opinions
about what the
relevant problems are
• one
disagrees
about how
research

should be pursued
• what
criteria
one should use
to assess research results
Paradigm
Paradigm as shared exemplar
• An
influential presentation
of a
scientific theory
• Normally
stated
,
augmented
and
revised
in
textbooks
• Contains
standard illustrations
and
applications of a theory

Normal science is built on and built by the exemplars
Paradigm as a disciplinary matrix
• Is the “
entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques
and so on
shared by members
of a given
community
” (Kuhn, 1962, p.175)
• A
set of answers to such questions
that are
learned by scientists
in the course of their education

Prepares
them for
research
and that
provide
the
framework
within which the
science operates

Encompasses skills
which
enable scientists
to make
technological devices work

Postscript of SSR
• Kuhn confessed that his use of ‘
paradigm
’ had been
equivocal
• He
blurred
the formerly
sharp contrast
between
normal science
and
revolutionary science

Conceded
that a
revolution

may happen
within a micro community
without causing an upheaval
within a science

Allowed
for the
replacement of one paradigm
by another
without the occurrence of a prior crisis

• Means “
lack of common measure
” (Ladyman, 2002, p. 115)
• Kuhn stresses that
successive scientific theories
are often
incommensurable
because there is
no neutral way of comparing
their
merits
• Likened a
paradigm shift
to a holistic “
gestalt shift
” of the kind of experiences

Theories
within
different paradigms
are
incommensurable
because the
terms
and
concepts
are
not mutually inter-translatable
; known as “
meaning incommensurability

• Hence there is
no possibility
of offering a
rational explanation of scientific change

Newtonian and Einsteinian mechanics
as a particular
example of incommensurability
Hoyningen (1990)
Misunderstanding of incommensurability
Incommensurability implies complete incomparability

Theories can be compared
in their
empirical potentials
• “Though the incommensurable concepts may be central to both theories,
many
[...]
predictions
may be
formulated
entirely
commensurably
” – Hoyningen (1990, p.220)
• For example:
position of celestial bodies
predicted by
Ptolemaic
and
Copernican
astronomy
Incommensurability implies full discontinuity

At least part of achievement
of a paradigm is
permanent
• “[after a revolution] much of [the scientist’s]
language
and
most
of his
laboratory instruments

are
the
same
as they were before. As a result,
post-revolutionary science
invariably
includes
many of the
same manipulations
, performed with the
same instruments
and described in the
same terms
as its
revolutionary predecessor.
” – Kuhn (1962, p.130)
Five core characteristics of a good scientific theory
Kuhn
: scientists
work
within their
paradigm
that provides the
tools
, the
problems
and the
criteria
of
solution
and therefore is
not subjected to attack and refutation
.
Popper
: impression of ‘
good
’ and ‘
proper

scientific behaviour
involves
constant
and
determined

attempts to falsify
the current theory.
Kuhn
: sees
scientific decision making
as a
complex and fluid process
of consensus formation, involving
people
with
differing

views
.
Popper
: views the
scientific decision making
as
not very contentious
. For instant
a test falsifying a theory’s prediction
has a
clear agreed outcome
and leads to
fast rejection of the ‘falsified’ theory
.

Kuhn
:
rejects
the
existence of a single
,
efficacious
,
transferable

method
and the
existence of ‘Science’ per se
and
prefers to work
in terms of
actual research fields
and
sub-fields
.
Popper
: believes that
science is based on some unique
,
transferable

method
and
to understand scientific method
is
to understand the nature of science
.
Kuhn
: thinks that
science is dogmatic and closed
whereby
students have to accept the truth
of scientific theories and
not criticize them
.
Popper
: opined that
science is open and critical
whereby
science corrects itself through criticism and revision
.
Kuhn
:
scientific theory-change
should be
understood in terms of psychology
and
sociology
.
Popper
preferred
rationality of science
whereby
scientific theory-change is viewed in terms
of
logic
and
philosophy
and
a scientific theory is accepted
based on
logic
and
evidence
in terms of
falsification
.
Kuhn
:
science only progress in terms of problem-solving
and
not getting closer to the truth
(verisimilitude) and
scientific theories (paradigms) are incommensurable
.
Popper
:
science is progressing towards the truth
(verisimilitude) when the
truth-content increases
and the
falsify-content decreases
.
• Kuhn’s claim that
discoveries and revolutions come about
only as a result of the
emergence of anomalies is questionable
because a
discovery might come about
in the course of
normal science
and initiate a ‘revolution’ due to
unanticipated insight
it offers and
the way it opens up opportunities
for
new areas of research
• For
example
the
double-helical structure of DNA
was
not expected
but instantly
suggested a mechanism
for the
duplication of genetic information
.
• Critics had complained that in the
1st edition of SSR
,
Kuhn has presented a caricature of science
.
• Watkins (1970) opined that
Kuhn had depicted science
as a
series of widely spaced upheavals
distanced by l
engthy dogmatic intervals
.
• Unfortunately, in his
Postscript
,
normal science has lost
whatever
monolithic character
it formerly had.

Normal science
is
created
by a
micro community
as long as its
members agree on the research value
of an exemplar or paradigm.
• Kuhn has even
allowed the replacement of an exemplar
in the
absence of any crisis.
Kuhn
, T. S., & Conant, J. B. (1957). The Copernican Revolution, Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought. Thomas S. Kuhn. [Foreword by James Bryant Conant]. Harvard University Press.
Kuhn
, T.S. (1970). Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research? in Lakatos, I. and Musgrave, A, Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ladyman
, J. (2002). Understanding Philosophy of Science. London & New York: Routledge.
Lakatos
, I. (1975). Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programmes. In Can Theories be Refuted? (pp. 205-259). Springer Netherlands.
Laudan
, L. (1978). Progress and its problems: Towards a theory of scientific growth (Vol. 282). University of California Press.
Losee
, J. (1993). A historical introduction to the philosophy of science (pp. 121-126). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Marx
, W., and L. Bornmann (2010). How accurately does Thomas Kuhn’s model of paradigm change describe the transition from the static view of the universe to the Big Bang theory in cosmology? Scientometrics 84(2): 441–464.
Newton-Smith
, W.H. (2000). A companion to the philosophy of science. Oxford: Blackwell.
Newton-Smith
, W.H. (2002). The rationality of science. Routledge.
Popper
, K. R. (1963). Conjectures and refutations (Vol. 28). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Psillos
, S., and M. Curd. (2008). Routledge companion to philosophy of science. London and New York: Routledge.
Schuster
, J.A. (1995). An Introduction to the History and Social Studies of Science, University of Wollongong.
Torres
, J.M. (2010). On Kuhn’s philosophy and its legacy. Lisbon: Cadernos de Filosofia das Cieˆncias.
Toulmin
, S. (1970). “Does the distinction between normal and revolutionary science hold water?”, in Lakatos and Musgrave 1970, 39–5.
Watkins
, J. (1970). ‘Against “Normal Science”’ in I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wray
, K. B. (2012). Assessing the influence of Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Metascience, 21(1), 1-10.
Paradigm shift
Ptolemy's Geocentric Solar System
Copernicus' Heliocentric Solar System
Impact of Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions”
• SSR is cited in
15 of the 81 articles
in the
Blackwell
Companion to the Philosophy of Science (Newton-Smith, 2000) and in
11 of the 55 articles
in the
Routledge
Companion to Philosophy of Science (Psillos and Curd, 2008) compared to just
8 and 5 articles
for Popper’s
Logic of Scientific Discovery
(Wray, 2012)
• Kuhn’s impacts can be seen from
special issues of journal publications
such as “
Reconsidering Thomas S. Kuhn
” in 2001 and “
New Perspectives on Thomas Kuhn
” in 2010 by
Perspectives on Science
besides the
periodic attempts to re-assess Kuhn’s contribution in anthologies
(Torres, 2010).
• Many of
Kuhn’s concepts
still play a
vital role
in philosophical analyses of science including
paradigm, paradigm change, normal science, scientific revolution, anomaly and incommensurability
.
• The term “
paradigm
” has appeared in
Web of Science indexed journal
articles. In
1960
, there were only
6 articles
, 8 in 1961, 21 in 1962, 80 in 1972, 235 in 1982, 651 in 1992 and
979 articles
with “paradigm” in the title in
2002
(Marx and Bornmann, 2010).
• Kuhn played an
imperative role
with regards to the
philosophy of science and history of science as two distinct fields
.
• He is also
responsible for directing the attention
of philosophers of science
to new ideas
. For example the p
hilosophical study of scientific experimentation
popularized by
Allan Franklin, Ian Hacking
and others.
• Kuhn’s influence on philosophy of science “
is wide-ranging and profound and has given great stimulus to philosophers of science, historians and sociologists of science
” (Wray, 2012, p. 8).
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