Book Report The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S Kuhn
It made the word paradigm shift very popular and it explores the manner in which scientific progress is actually achieved (Kuhn and Hacking, 8). Kuhn was an extraordinarily influential philosopher, physicist and historian. Kuhn talks about the revolutions that come to destroy the continuity of normal science and scientific knowledge. This report dwells in showing the structure or shape of scientific research and progress as written by Kuhn. Also, it emphasizes more on the scientific revolutions episodes whereby people got another way of thinking and understanding by overthrowing certain scientific developments and the manner in which the universe functions. He defines a scientific community as a group that a scientist belongs in accordance with the set of shared beliefs (Kuhn and Hacking, 17).
The paradigm progress in normal science periods can linear and cumulative. In contrast, scientific revolutions are the episodes of non-cumulative developments whereby a new incompatible paradigm displaces an older one in whole or in part. Therefore, paradigm shift takes place when revolutionary science periods interrupt normal science. A paradigm shift is described by Kuhn as the mother explanation of scientific progress ruling out the linear cumulation process. This section is one of the central of the book and it would be helpful to explain it with other basic concepts and ideas. Kuhn uses the notion of anomalies in describing paradigm shifts – when anomalies arise, it means there is controversy firestorm within and outside scientific communities, and that is when a new paradigm comes into existence (15)citation).
According to Kuhn (15), any anomalies that emerged between nature and theory could bring normal science to an end. However, he believes that it is not a joyful process as strongly held beliefs have to be broken and mixed with new ones. This is also what Kuhn termed as a paradigm shift. In talking a little bit about the necessity of scientific revolutions, paradigms play a vital role in ensuring that scientists come up with new theories. In this sense, the older paradigms cease to function adequately or tackle the problems posed by an environment or nature. He thinks that in most cases the paradigm that has failed to do so was the one that led the way to the aspect. Normal science, according to Kuhn, can be cumulative and update by the process of puzzle-solving (citation73).
A puzzle is a problem in a special category that can test skill or ingenuity in solution, contrasting to an anomaly as the thing that violates the expectations of a paradigm of normal science. In explaining the nature and necessity of scientific revolutions, it is the presence of malfunction leading to crises that always leads to revolution. Scientific revolutions seemed to revolutionary to the scientists whose paradigms were affected by such, but not seemed normal process of development to outsiders. In this sense, one paradigm had to be violated for another to be created. Kuhn continues with his analysis of a vital paradigm shift by the way scientists responded to crisis (Kuhn and Hacking, 84). (citation). A scientific revolution comes about when a previous paradigm is replaced with a new one that is incompatible through a noncumulative process (Kuhn, 86).
Kuhn explains the nature of scientific revolutions as similar to that of political revolutions. Two competing paradigms enter into a battle and the successful new paradigm displace the previous one in order for assimilation process to take place. At this point, rejection for the older paradigm occurs. Paradigm debates are made revolutionary due to the involving values that are external to normal science. In the beginning, the new candidate is supported by few individuals, but if they are knowledgeable they show the world the importance of the paradigm they are supporting. Exploration increases as more scientists are converted to the new paradigm and those few who resist, cease to be scientists. According to Kuhn (208), the development of scientific ideas has achieved much in the scientific world.
The change of paradigms has enabled creativity and progress in the world. The fact that Kuhn doubted the main scientific ideas that were widely accepted, shows how resilient he was in his stand. He saw discontinuities where others saw cumulative progress (Bird, np). I can argue that his views were seen as very controversial as they challenged powerful assumptions regarding scientific work. Kuhn’s analysis affected the conservative view of science being the eventual standard for truth by stating that science moves away from earlier error. He believed believes that science develops over time but deniesd that science is continuously impending the truth. This iwas confusing and vague. According to Kuhn, many older scientists find it a challenge to accommodate a paradigm shift.
The younger generation of scientists were the ones creating new paradigms when the older one came into extinction. Kuhn’s perspective is glorified in the way it has clearly explained that science progresses by revolution sequences (Nickles, np). However, his position on theory choice seems to be not acceptable as it is based on too much radical claims concerning lack of translation ability from one paradigm to another. Furthermore, I think Kuhn’s concept of revolutions is flawed in some sense. Thus, grouping them into isolated mental worlds. I find Kuhn’s explanation of nature of science and how it develops as somehow questionable. This is to say that its domain is essentially limited. Kuhn sees numerous revolutions in the history of science which is contradicting with the traditional understanding that it was found by the scientific revolution in Renaissance Europe.
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