Thomas Kuhn's Philosophy of Science Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

If the anomaly resists explanation within the paradigm, the paradigm is altered to include the anomaly. Therefore, to lead to a true crisis and to form the foundation of a scientific revolution, an anomaly must conflict with the basic tenets of the paradigm. In addition, the anomaly cannot be answered by normal research and problem-solving skills within the paradigm, regardless of the modifications.

Therefore, it can be said that crises and scientific revolution both begin with the recognition of an anomaly and the loosening of a paradigm and its associated rules. As the anomaly becomes more widely recognized, more research is devoted to resolving the anomaly, which changes the face of the discipline. As the anomaly is explained, it causes competition between competing explanations of the original paradigm. The result is that there are only three ways that a crisis can be resolved. The first method is for scientists to develop a method whereby normal science can explain the anomaly at the base of the crises; this results in a return to the normal science, perhaps with modifications. The second way a crisis can be resolved is for scientists to continue to recognize the anomaly, but to explain its presence by claiming to lack the necessary tools to solve the problem created by the anomaly. The third method is the road to scientific revolution, because it results in the beginning of a new paradigm.

The creation of a new paradigm is essential to scientific revolution because paradigms will not be invalidated unless they can be replaced. To do otherwise would be a rejection of science. The transition from a paradigm in crisis to a new paradigm involves a reconstruction of the field and the establishment of new fundamentals. These new fundamentals include new theories, rules, methods, and applications. The result is a new paradigm.

The transition to a new paradigm is, according to Kuhn, a scientific revolution. The reason that Kuhn believes it is a revolution is because such a paradigm shift is the result of a noncumulative change. Furthermore, Kuhn believes such change is similar to a political revolution because, like opposing political views, there is no resolution of paradigmatic differences. There are several reasons that these differences cannot be resolved. The first reason is perhaps the most important; differences in science are generally resolved by resort to normal science, but without an established paradigm, there can be no normal science. Furthermore, opposing viewpoints resort to their own paradigm to explain differences, which results in moving the paradigms farther apart. Instead of relying on science, scientific revolutions ultimately rely upon nature, logic, and persuasive techniques. The most persuasive paradigm emerges as the only paradigm. In this way, Kuhn argues that the development of a new paradigm brings about the destruction of earlier paradigms because the differences between old and new paradigms are irreconcilable. Furthermore, when a paradigm changes, so do the problems and proposed solutions perceived by the advocates of that paradigm.

A result of this change is that paradigm changes, while originating in the world of science and resolved in that same world, have a much broader effect. Simply put, scientific revolutions create changes, even revolutionary changes in the world at large. It is this change in world-view that highlights the interaction between science and the perception of truth. Scientists are not the only people who are limited by their paradigms in their observation of truth; all people use paradigms to observe, perceive, and interpret facts. Therefore, it is the paradigms that define truth, at least in that moment.

While this relationship between science and truth is the subject of current discussion and debate, the fact is that the relationship between science and truth has been relatively constant. Science, however it has been defined, has consistently been equated with truth. It is interesting that, even when a brief view of the history of science reveals constant revelations in what is considered truth; people continue to adhere to the idea that truth is science. Of course, truth has always been related to perception; in fact, a statement that is truthful in one context may be untruthful in another context. Therefore, science provides the context for determining truth. In return, establishing truths creates the paradigms, which create research problems, which results in the discovery of anomalies, which eventually results in the creation of new truths. The result is that without science there is no truth, and without truth there is no science.

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