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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Thomas Kuhn and scientific revolutions

Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) was an American philosopher best known for his theory of scientific revolutions. Philosopher Ronald Giere said,


"Without doubt, Kuhn's work was the single most influential force in creating the intersection of history, philosophy and sociology of science that became identified as 'science studies'." (Kuhn's Legacy for North American Philosophy of Science, 1997)


Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci said,


"When Thomas Kuhn talked about paradigm shifts within science, he defined a paradigm as a disciplinary matrix which included not just the dominant theoretical framework within a given science (say quantum mechanics in modern fundamental physics), but also the vocabulary and methods accepted within the community, the range of questions deemed interesting, as well as the textbooks and other training tools for the next generation of scientists." (Can we compare different cultural forms of life? 2017)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Kuhn.


Normal science and revolutionary science


"Normal science, the puzzle-solving activity... is a highly cumulative enterprise, eminently successful in its aim, the steady extension of the scope and precision of scientific knowledge." (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962)


"Scientific revolutions are inaugurated by a growing sense... that an existing paradigm has ceased to function adequately in the exploration of an aspect of nature to which that paradigm itself had previously led the way." (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962)