International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. Volume 2 • Number 2. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Thomas S. Kuhn. Contents: PREFACE. The Structure of. Scientific Revolutions Thomas S. Kuhn, Scientific Revolutions. The Social Context of Scientific Discovery. Scientific. Science. PDF | Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited books of the Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientiﬁc Revolutions () is in many.
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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a book about the history of science by the philosopher Thomas S. Kuhn. Its publication was a landmark event in the. download The Structure of Scientific Revolutions on terney.info ✓ FREE SHIPPING on qualified orders. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. THOMAS S. KUHN () (Excerpt). VIII. The Response to Crisis. Let us then assume that crises are a necessary.
Kuhn's blinding insight came from the sudden realisation that if one is to understand Aristotelian science, one must know about the intellectual tradition within which Aristotle worked. One must understand, for example, that for him the term "motion" meant change in general — not just the change in position of a physical body, which is how we think of it. Or, to put it in more general terms, to understand scientific development one must understand the intellectual frameworks within which scientists work.
That insight is the engine that drives Kuhn's great book. Kuhn remained at Harvard until and, having failed to get tenure, moved to the University of California at Berkeley where he wrote Structure… and was promoted to a professorship in The following year, the book was published by the University of Chicago Press.
Despite the pages of the first edition, Kuhn — in his characteristic, old-world scholarly style — always referred to it as a mere "sketch". He would doubtless have preferred to have written an page doorstop. But in the event, the readability and relative brevity of the "sketch" was a key factor in its eventual success. Although the book was a slow starter, selling only copies in , by mid it had sold , copies and sales to date now stand at 1. For a cerebral work of this calibre, these are Harry Potter-scale numbers.
Kuhn's central claim is that a careful study of the history of science reveals that development in any scientific field happens via a series of phases.
The first he christened "normal science" — business as usual, if you like. In this phase, a community of researchers who share a common intellectual framework — called a paradigm or a "disciplinary matrix" — engage in solving puzzles thrown up by discrepancies anomalies between what the paradigm predicts and what is revealed by observation or experiment.
Most of the time, the anomalies are resolved either by incremental changes to the paradigm or by uncovering observational or experimental error. As philosopher Ian Hacking puts it in his terrific preface to the new edition of Structure: "Normal science does not aim at novelty but at clearing up the status quo.
It tends to discover what it expects to discover. At this point, the discipline enters a period of crisis characterised by, in Kuhn's words, "a proliferation of compelling articulations, the willingness to try anything, the expression of explicit discontent, the recourse to philosophy and to debate over fundamentals".
In the end, the crisis is resolved by a revolutionary change in world-view in which the now-deficient paradigm is replaced by a newer one. This is the paradigm shift of modern parlance and after it has happened the scientific field returns to normal science, based on the new framework.
And so it goes on. This brutal summary of the revolutionary process does not do justice to the complexity and subtlety of Kuhn's thinking. To appreciate these, you have to read his book. But it does perhaps indicate why Structure… came as such a bombshell to the philosophers and historians who had pieced together the Whig interpretation of scientific progress.
As an illustration, take Kuhn's portrayal of "normal" science. The most influential philosopher of science in was Karl Popper, described by Hacking as "the most widely read, and to some extent believed, by practising scientists".
Popper summed up the essence of "the" scientific method in the title of one of his books: Conjectures and Refutations.
Therefore, the authors expect criticism and suggestions from various parties to the perfection of this summary.
And hopefully this summary can be useful for all of us. The Writer. In the preface, Kuhn tells us that he began the work as a way of explaining to himself and his friends why he chose to study the history of science.
In the preface he describes the work as an essay and that he had hoped to include additional material in order to compile a book. He mentions the many people that influenced his thinking and amongst these were Paul Feyerabend. It was perhaps unsurprising that Feyerabend would have been an influence as they were based at the same university and shared common interests.
The sharing of some similar themes is evident later in the book. Already in the preface, Kuhn approaches a very sensitive subject area by marking out the social sciences as opposed to the natural sciences for special attention. Both history and acquaintanence made me doubt that practitioners of the natural sciences possess firmer or more permanent answers to such questions than their colleagues in social science.
Yet somehow the practice of astronomy, physics, chemistry or biology normally fails to evoke the controversies over fundamentals that today often seem endemic amongst say psychologists or sociologists. Attempting to discover the source of that difference led me to recognise the role in scientific research of what I have since called paradigms. While in the fundamentals of one branch of physics — mechanics, there is consideration of the motion of bodies in an idealised environment in psychology or sociology the fundamentals are concerned not with inanimate idealised objects but richly complex human beings.
Perhaps the benefits to society of the technological advances informed by the natural sciences are the real reason why the natural and social sciences are separated. To propagate the arguments within the social sciences, various distribution media are needed, the printing press, the internet, the radio and so on. These medium however are impossible without the associated manufacturing facilities which in turn are directly dependent on an understanding of branches of physics or chemistry.
Thus rather ironically one might suggest that the wider debate in social sciences can take place only because of the success of the natural sciences. While there have been innumerable successes in the social sciences, wherever we turn in the modern world we are faced with the end-results of an understanding of the natural sciences, bricks, paint, plastics, paper, ceramics, artificial light, electronics, metals, telecommunication, automobiles.
Many of these have existed for millenia but in the current age an understanding of the natural sciences is necessary for the mass manufacturing of such items for large populations. In this chapter he elaborates on his distinction between normal and revolutionary science and it makes for interesting reading. Early in the chapter Kuhn suggests that textbooks offer scientists a medium through which they can arrive at a consensus.
The textbook states the common problems facing a research community. There were two features he suggests are necessary for revolutionary science 1. Unprecedented findings which were sufficient to draw people away from other areas of study suggesting that there was a competitive element to the process.
That revolutionary science would be sufficiently open-ended to enable others to develop theories from this. Kuhn then goes on to discuss revolutionary science in physical optics and with regards to electrical phenomenon. Thus he suggests that a language arises which can be readily understood by those outside of the research community although this changes very rapidly.
After a time the community develop a specialised language. The research community develops more specialised equipment to investigate every more specialised questions. He also has some interesting things to say about different branches of science.
Thus for the social sciences he suggests that the revolutionary paradigm may be occuring today although this would have been some time ago when the book was originally written. However such a grand statement should be qualified with more specific examples to support his argument.
Another possibility is that the social sciences may operate differently to the natural sciences in terms of how research communities are organised, behaviours within the communities and even the nature of the questions that are being posed. I would argue therefore that a much closer examination needs to be made in order to justify even simple statements of this type. The strength of his book lies in how he guides the reader from examples through to his conclusions and there is no reason why this should be abandoned when discussing a very complex branch of science.
When he refers to medicine however he makes an interesting observation that this is strongly driven by an external social need. He also notes that technology assists in gathering data necessary for the development of a science.
The core essence of this chapter lies in three tenets as follow. What is also interesting about this chapter is that Kuhn again relates scientific paradigms to social structures within the scientific community. For example a successful paradigm will address some of the acute problems faced by the scientific community.
This in itself deserves further reflection as it would mean that the concepts of paradigms, normal science and revolutionary science can be subject to the same iterative process he suggests to apply to science itself although strictly speaking this is philosophy. Kuhn has some interesting comments about those that do not work in paradigms and how such scientists are generally ignored by the scientific community unless they are part of a revolutionary movement.
As with previous chapters Kuhn offers the reader much to reflect on. These puzzles are problems that need to be solved within a framework of rules. Kuhn suggest that the scientific community chooses puzzles that they think are solvable.
Thus there are the explicit clearly articulated central problems lying within the informal framework of rules.
As a result seemingly straightforward amendments of solutions to problems do not work in the scientific community if they do not also address the surrounding framework of rules. The amendment was ignored by the research community and other findings eventually enabled the derivation to occur without this move away from the central paradigm. Kuhns ideas here form a profound basis for consideration of scientific activities.
Such questions can be turned to specific branches of science. We can begin to ask about the rules that govern research in certain areas of psychiatry for instance or reflect on the meaning of the open science movement. We can also ask use these concepts to differentiate science from other social activities.
I thought this essay was less articulate than the previous essays although he introduces some important concepts which he develops in later chapters. Kuhn suggests that rules govern a research tradition and that there is a common understanding within the research community that forms the research paradigm. However he thinks that scientists are often unaware of the specifics of the research paradigm and instead rely on an intuitive understanding much akin to that proposed by Wittgenstein.
Wittgenstein proposed that we know a game by its family of properties. He gives the example of a chemist and a physicist being asked whether helium is a molecule and giving two entirely different answers.
The explanation for this is that the scientists were using different paradigms even though both branches were derived using quantum mechanics. He suggests for instance that the scientist may undertake research quite separately from any explicit consideration of the underlying paradigm. This thought is quite remarkable as it suggests that a scientist may dissociate a rational approach used in their experimental study from an irrational approach to the wider context of the research paradigm in which their study is operating.
Kuhn would presumably have recommended a healthy scepticism towards the research paradigm although this is not explicitly mentioned within the essay. These characteristics remain invariant regardless of whether it is science we are talking about or any group activity.
They are not rules, because they involve perceived relations of similarity of puzzle-solution to a paradigm. They are not theory-independent, since they involve comparison to a paradigm theory. They are not permanent, since the paradigm may change in a scientific revolution.
Consequently, comparison between theories will not be as straightforward as the standard empiricist picture would have it, since the standards of evaluation are themselves subject to change. Theories are incommensurable when they share no common measure. Thus, if paradigms are the measures of attempted puzzle-solutions, then puzzle-solutions developed in different eras of normal science will be judged by comparison to differing paradigms and so lack a common measure.
Kuhn stressed that incommensurability did not mean non-comparability just as the side and diagonal of a square are comparable in many respects. In general the factors that determine our choices of theory whether puzzle-solutions or potential paradigm theories are not fixed and neutral but vary and are dependent in particular on the disciplinary matrix within which the scientist is working. Despite the possibility of divergence, there is nonetheless widespread agreement on the desirable features of a new puzzle-solution or theory.
Kuhn , —2 identifies five characteristics that provide the shared basis for a choice of theory: 1. Even though these are, for Kuhn, constitutive of science c, ; , they cannot determine scientific choice. First, which features of a theory satisfy these criteria may be disputable e. Secondly, these criteria are imprecise, and so there is room for disagreement about the degree to which they hold. Thirdly, there can be disagreement about how they are to be weighted relative to one another, especially when they conflict.
He developed what has become known as the thesis of the theory-dependence of observation, building on the work of N.
Hanson while also referring to psychological studies carried out by his Harvard colleagues, Leo Postman and Jerome Bruner Bruner and Postman The standard positivist view was that observation provides the neutral arbiter between competing theories. The thesis that Kuhn and Hanson promoted denied this, holding that the nature of observation may be influenced by prior beliefs and experiences.
Consequently it cannot be expected that two scientists when observing the same scene will make the same theory-neutral observations. Kuhn asserts that Galileo and an Aristotelian when both looking at a pendulum will see different things see quoted passage below.
The theory-dependence of observation, by rejecting the role of observation as a theory-neutral arbiter among theories, provides another source of incommensurability. The theory-dependence of observation means that even if there were agreed methods of inference and interpretation, incommensurability could still arise since scientists might disagree on the nature of the observational data themselves. Kuhn expresses or builds on the idea that participants in different disciplinary matrices will see the world differently by claiming that their worlds are different: In a sense I am unable to explicate further, the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds.
One contains constrained bodies that fall slowly, the other pendulums that repeat their motions again and again. In one, solutions are compounds, in the other mixtures. One is embedded in a flat, the other in a curved, matrix of space. Remarks such as these gave some commentators the impression that Kuhn was a strong kind of constructivist, holding that the way the world literally is depends on which scientific theory is currently accepted.
Kuhn, however, denied any constructivist import to his remarks on world-change. The closest Kuhn came to constructivism was to acknowledge a parallel with Kantian idealism, which is discussed below in Section 6. Kuhn likened the change in the phenomenal world to the Gestalt-switch that occurs when one sees the duck-rabbit diagram first as representing a duck then as representing a rabbit, although he himself acknowledged that he was not sure whether the Gestalt case was just an analogy or whether it illustrated some more general truth about the way the mind works that encompasses the scientific case too.
Moreover observation—if conceived of as a form of perception—does not play a significant part in every science. Kuhn wanted to explain his own experience of reading Aristotle, which first left him with the impression that Aristotle was an inexplicably poor scientist Kuhn But careful study led to a change in his understanding that allowed him to see that Aristotle was indeed an excellent scientist.
This could not simply be a matter of literally perceiving things differently. Kuhn took the incommensurability that prevented him from properly understanding Aristotle to be at least partly a linguistic, semantic matter.
Indeed, Kuhn spent much of his career after The Structure of Scientific Revolutions attempting to articulate a semantic conception of incommensurability. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn asserts that there are important shifts in the meanings of key terms as a consequence of a scientific revolution. For example, Kuhn says: … the physical referents of these Einsteinian concepts are by no means identical with those of the Newtonian concepts that bear the same name.
Newtonian mass is conserved; Einsteinian is convertible with energy. Only at low relative velocities may the two be measured in the same way, and even then they must not be conceived to be the same. We can therefore say that the later theory is closer to the truth than the older theory. Hence incommensurability is supposed to rule out convergent realism, the view that science shows ever improving approximation to the truth.
Kuhn also thinks, for independent reasons, that the very ideas of matching the truth and similarity to the truth are incoherent a, One source for this is the later philosophy of Wittgenstein. Another not unrelated source is the assumption of holism in the philosophy of science that is consequent upon the positivist conception of theoretical meaning. According to the latter, it is not the function of the theoretical part of scientific language to refer to and describe unobserved entities.
Only observational sentences directly describe the world, and this accounts for them having the meaning that they do. Theories permit the deduction of observational sentences. This is what gives theoretical expressions their meaning. Theoretical statements cannot, however, be reduced to observational ones.
This is because, first, theoretical propositions are collectively involved in the deduction of observational statements, rather than singly. Secondly, theories generate dispositional statements e. Consequently, the meaning of a theoretical sentence is not equivalent to the meaning of any observational sentence or combination of observational sentences. The meaning of a theoretical term is a product of two factors: the relationship of the theory or theories of which it is a part to its observational consequences and the role that particular term plays within those theories.
This is the double-language model of the language of science and was the standard picture of the relationship of a scientific theory to the world when Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. By insisting on the theory-dependence of observation, Kuhn in effect argued that the holism of theoretical meaning is shared by apparently observational terms also, and for this reason the problem of incommensurability cannot be solved by recourse to theory-neutral observation sentences. If that were the case, Kuhn would be committed to the worldly existence of both Newtonian mass and Einsteinian mass which are nonetheless not the same.
It is implausible that Kuhn intended to endorse such a view. A better interpretation is to understand Kuhn as taking reference, in this context, to be a relation between a term and a hypothetical rather than worldly entity.
Again this may be seen as a reflection of the influence of one or other or both of the later Wittgensteinian downplaying of reference and of the positivist view that theories are not descriptions of the world but are in one way or another tools for the organization or prediction of observations. This he attempted in subsequent work, with the result that the nature of the thesis changed over time.
The heart of the incommensurability thesis after The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is the idea that certain kinds of translation are impossible. According to the latter, if we are translating one language into another, there are inevitably a multitude of ways of providing a translation that is adequate to the behaviour of the speakers. Secondly, Kuhn does believe that the translated expressions do have a meaning, whereas Quine denies this.
Thirdly, Kuhn later went on to say that unlike Quine he does not think that reference is inscrutable—it is just very difficult to recover , Subsequently, Kuhn developed the view that incommensurability arises from differences in classificatory schemes.
This is taxonomic incommensurability. A field of science is governed by a taxonomy, which divides its subject matter into kinds. Associated with a taxonomy is a lexical network—a network of related terms.
A significant scientific change will bring with it an alteration in the lexical network which in turn will lead to a re-alignment of the taxonomy of the field. The terms of the new and old taxonomies will not be inter-translatable. The problematic nature of translation arises from two assumptions. First, as we have seen, Kuhn assumes that meaning is locally holistic. A change in the meaning of one part of the lexical structure will result in a change to all its parts.
This would rule out preservation of the translatability of taxonomies by redefining the changed part in terms of the unchanged part.
This rules out the possibility of an all-encompassing taxonomy that incorporates both the original and the changed taxonomies. Ian Hacking relates this to the world-change thesis: after a revolution the world of individuals remains as it was, but scientists now work in a world of new kinds. Kuhn continued to develop his conceptual approach to incommensurability.
At the time of his death he had made considerable progress on a book in which he related incommensurability to issues in developmental psychology and concept acquisition. During the s his focus was primarily on the early theory of heat and the work of Sadie Carnot. However, his first book concerned the Copernican revolution in planetary astronomy First, he demonstrated that Aristotelian science was genuine science and that those working within that tradition, in particular those working on Ptolemaic astronomy, were engaged in an entirely reasonable and recognizably scientific project.
Secondly, Kuhn showed that Copernicus was himself far more indebted to that tradition than had typically been recognized. Thus the popular view that Copernicus was a modern scientist who overthrew an unscientific and long-outmoded viewpoint is mistaken both by exaggerating the difference between Copernicus and the Ptolemaic astronomers and in underestimating the scientific credentials of work carried out before Copernicus.
This mistaken view—a product of the distortion caused by our current state of knowledge—can be rectified only by seeing the activities of Copernicus and his predecessors in the light of the puzzles presented to them by tradition that they inevitably had to work with. According to classical physics a particle could possess any energy in a continuous range and if it changes energy it does so in a continuous fashion, possessing at some point in time every energy between the initial and final energy states.
Modern quantum theory denies both these classical principles. Energy is quantised—a particle may possess only one of a set of discrete energies. However, argued Kuhn, Planck did not have in mind a genuine physical discontinuity of energies until , which is after Albert Einstein and Paul Ehrenfest had themselves emphasized it in —6. Many readers were surprised not to find mention of paradigms or incommensurability. Indeed the whole essay may be seen as a demonstration of an incommensurability between the mature quantum theory and the early quantum theory of Planck which was still rooted in classical statistical physics.
Kuhn argues that the modern quantum concept was introduced first not by Planck but by Einstein. Furthermore, this fact is hidden both by the continued use of the same term and by the same distortion of history that has affected our conception of Ptolemy and Copernicus.
At the same time other developments in philosophy opened up new avenues for criticism. That criticism has largely focussed on two areas. In particular paradigms and their theories are not questioned and not changed in normal science whereas they are questioned and are changed in revolutionary science. Thus a revolution is, by definition revisionary, and normal science is not as regards paradigms. Furthermore, normal science does not suffer from the conceptual discontinuities that lead to incommensurability whereas revolutions do.
This picture has been questioned for its accuracy. Kuhn could reply that such revisions are not revisions to the paradigm but to the non-paradigm puzzle-solutions provided by normal science. But that in turn requires a clear distinction between paradigmatic and non-paradigmatic components of science, a distinction that, arguably, Kuhn has not supplied in any detail. At the same time, by making revisionary change a necessary condition of revolutionary science, Kuhn ignores important discoveries and developments that are widely regarded as revolutionary, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and the revolution in molecular biology.
The double-helical structure of DNA was not expected but immediately suggested a mechanism for the duplication of genetic information e. For a realist conception of scientific progress also wishes to assert that, by and large, later science improves on earlier science, in particular by approaching closer to the truth.
If we do take theories to be potential descriptions of the world, involving reference to worldly entities, kind, and properties, then the problems raised by incommensurability largely evaporate.
For truth and nearness to the truth depend only on reference and not on sense. Two terms can differ in sense yet share the same reference, and correspondingly two sentences may relate to one another as regards truth without their sharing terms with the same sense. And so even if we retain a holism about the sense of theoretical terms and allow that revolutions lead to shifts in sense, there is no direct inference from this to a shift in reference.
Consequently, there is no inference to the inadmissibility of the comparison of theories with respect to their truth-nearness. While this referentialist response to the incommensurability thesis was initially framed in Fregean terms Scheffler , it received further impetus from the work of Kripke and Putnam b , which argued that reference could be achieved without anything akin to Fregean sense and that the natural kind terms of science exemplified this sense-free reference.
In particular, causal theories of reference permit continuity of reference even through fairly radical theoretical change. They do not guarantee continuity in reference, and changes in reference can occur on some causal theories, e. Arguing that they do occur would require more, however, than merely pointing to a change in theory. Rather, it seems, cases of reference change must be identified and argued for on a case by case basis.
The simple causal theory of reference does have its problems, such as explaining the referential mechanism of empty theoretical terms e.
Causal-descriptive theories which allow for a descriptive component tackle such problems while retaining the key idea that referential continuity is possible despite radical theory change Kroon , Sankey Of course, the referentialist response shows only that reference can be retained, not that it must be. Consequently it is only a partial defence of realism against semantic incommensurability. A further component of the defence of realism against incommensurability must be an epistemic one.
For referentialism shows that a term can retain reference and hence that the relevant theories may be such that the later constitutes a better approximation to the truth than the earlier. Nonetheless it may not be possible for philosophers or others to know that there has been such progress.
Methodological incommensurability in particular seems to threaten the possibility of this knowledge.