Updated: 21 January 2000


      “History, if viewed as a repository for more than anecdote or chronology, could produce a decisive transformation in the image of science by which we are now possessed.  That image has previously been drawn, even by scientists themselves, mainly from the study of finished scientific achievements as these are recorded in the classics and, more recently, in the textbooks from which each new scientific generation learns to practice its trade.   Inevitably, however, the aim of such books is persuasive and pedagogic; a concept of science drawn from them is no more likely to fit the enterprise that produced them than an image of a national culture drawn from a tourist brochure or a lanague text.  This essays attempts to show that we have been misled by them in fundamental ways.  Its aim is a sketch of the quite different concept of science that can emerge from the historical record of the research activity itself.”  Kuhn 1962

1.

 

 

The Received Image

 

1.     Demarcation

 

2.     Scientific method - inductive algorithm

 

3.     Discovery vs justification

 

4.         Observation and theory

 

Foundationalism (“observation sentences”)

 

 theoretic terms

 

meaning via observational sentences

theories are deductive structures

 

5.     Science is cumulative      (somehow)

 

6.     Science about the world          (somehow)

            (instrumentalism, realism)

 

7.     Science is paradigm of rationality.

8. Unity of science : everything reduces to physics

2.

 


Paradigms

 

Community with shared commitments

 

Paradigm : what the community is solid on.

 

      Metallurgy in Beijing and Oxford

      Philosophy in Paris and Oxford

      Sociology ....

 

      “What do its members share that accounts for the relative fullness of their professional communication and relatively unanimity of their professional judgement?”

3.

 


Paradigm

 

1.     Shared symbolic generalisations.

 

2.     Models - pictures that guide research

            (plate tectonics, computer analogies)

 

3.     Values - good making features of theories

            accuracy

            consistency

            scope

            simplicity

            fertility

 

      enforcement mechanism ?

4.


 

 

 

4.     Metaphysical principles

            untestible guiding assumptions

                  time not a causal factor

                  theories must be deterministic

 

 

5.     Exemplars:

      agreement on concrete problems

            and on good solutions

5.


 

 

Paradigm as achievement - transmitted to new generation via textbooks etc

Paradigms - shared examples

 

No complete, enlightening verbal description.

 

      Must use examples.

 

      Scientist exercises judgement

            (like chicken sexers)

 

 

“I myself have introduced the term ‘paradigm’ to underscore the dependence of scientific research upon concrete examples that bridge what would otherwise be gaps in the specification of the content and application of scientific theories.” (Kuhn)

6.

 

 

 

      Room for disagreement on relative importance of values and on interpretation of particular values (ie., simplicity)

 

      Circles vs. ellipses

 

A vague idea ?

 

      Masterman - 23 uses of “paradigm” !

 

      “paradigms of a mature science can be determined with ease”

 

Value ?

 

      directs attention to neglected aspect

      new vocabulary - try it and see

 

Social sciences are pre-paradigmatic

7.

 

 


 

Normal Science

 

      paradigm dominant

 

      work inside solving problems it determines

 

      conservative - do more of the same thing

 

      basically puzzle solving

 

experiments test the experimenter, not the theory

 

undergraduates are not allowed to falsify theories - learn to get the “right” result.

8.

 


Anomalies

 

      unsolved problems

      accumulate in time

 

Revolutions

 

anomalies > failure of consensus > revolution

 

      analogy with political revolutions

 

new theories do not triumph because of better evidence, triumph because of the failure of the old

9.

 


Incommensurability

 

      “no common measure”

 

paradigm defines its own standards, its own values [interpretation of the values]

 

      no rational choice

 

external explanation via sociological and psychological factors

 

“Already  it should be clear that the explanation [of scientific change] must, in the final analysis be psychological or sociological.  It must, that is, be a description of a value system, an ideology, together with an analysis of the institutions through which that system is transmitted and enforced.” (Kuhn)

 

      Cyril Burtt and IQ testing

      Communists and Lamarck

 

Kuhn ?

10.

 

Strong Programme in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

 

 

David Bloor

Knowledge and Social Imagery

 

 

Barry Barnes

 

Scientific Knowledge and Sociological Theory

 

Interests and the Growth of Knowledge

 

 

JR Brown

The Rational and the Social

11.

 


 

Extreme sociological approach

 

1.     Self-destructs 

 

      Why agree?

      Arguments or bribes?

 

 

2.     Mysterious

 

If all is determined sociologically, how come computers work?

 

 

3.     While do conflicts get resolved? Why do they not continue as in morals or art?

 

“Theories do not get refuted, old theoreticans die.” Planck

12.

 


Kuhn :      deeply ambivalent

 

      loves science and scientific progress

 

      “First, the new candidate must seem to resolve some outstanding and generally recognised problem that can be met I no other way.  Second, the new paradigm must promise to preserve a relatively large part of the concrete problem-solving ability that has accrued to science through its predecessor.” 

 

 

      rhetoric of “scientific values” and “paradigm” takes him in the opposition direction.

 

      “values” justified as means to the end

 

      over-reaction to the absence of algorithms

 

Kuhn fails to see that according a role for judgement does not mean a failure of objectivity

13.

 


The Ultimate Test

 

 

      “scientific values” at best guiding considerations

 

      ultimate test is predictive and manipulative power

 

      hard to give examples of sustained disagreement in science which can be explained by reference to differences as to the “values”

 

      eventually the game is over

 

Kuhn no progress in sense of truth or verisimilitude or finding “what is really there”, only via problem solving

14.

 


Incommensurability       Part Two

 

radical meaning variance -

      different paradigms involve different languages -no theory neutral language in which to express the theories, so no rational choice

 

Source in positivism

 

Meaning of O-terms is unproblematic ???

Meaning of T-terms via role in theory

            not by verbal definitions

            not by ostention

So, theory change means change in meaning

 

No dichotomy between O and T

Therefore, meaning variance applies to all terms - both O and T.

 

So if Newton met Einstein, conversation couldn’t get off the ground.

 

Textbook derivations are invalid!

15.


 

Responses:

 

 

1.     Radical:   No rationality.

                        All is sociology.

 

2.     Confused: Kuhn

                        “partial communication”

 

3.     New non-holistic theory of meaning

 

      H Putnam

            “Explanation and Reference”

            “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’”

      in his Mind, Language and Reality

 

      W Newton-Smith

            Rationality of Science Ch 7

16.

 


 

The Two Kuhns

 

      Temperate Kuhn

 

            sees deficiencies in positivists & Popper

 

            revolutions

 

            science - essential social component

 

            no algorithm of theory choice

 

            progress & rationality possible but

 

tricky

 

 

      Radical Kuhn

 

            carried away by innovative vocabulary

            over-reacts to his own discoveries

            incommensurability

            no progress

17.


 

AND EVEN WORSE-

 

Paradigms as changes in world view

 

      Just dramatic mode of expression ?

 

      [As if] ... “the community had been transported to another planet where familiar objects are given in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well”

 

      “... inhabit different worlds in a sense I am unable to explicate further...”

 

      Einstein did not just discovered curved space, he curved space!

18.


 

KOT : Kuhn over the top.

 

No progress. World changes with theory change.

 

      Embarrassing.

19.

 

 

My goal is double. On the one hand, I aim to justify claims that science is cognitive, that its product is knowledge of nature, and that the criteria it uses in evaluating beliefs are in that sense epistemic. But on the other hand, I aim to deny all meaning to claims that successive scientific beliefs become more and more probable or better and better approximations to the truth and simultaneously to suggest that the subject of truth claims cannot be a relation between beliefs and a putatively mind-independent or “external” world.

20.

 

 

What, if not a match with external reality, is the objective of scientific research? Though I think it requires additional thought and development, the answer supplied in Structure still seems to me the right one: whether or not individual practitioners are aware of it, they are trained to and rewarded for solving intricate puzzles – be they instrumental, theoretical, logical, or mathematical – at the interface between their phenomenal world and their community’s beliefs about it. That is what they are trained to do and what, to the extent they retain control of their time, they spend most of their professional lives doing. Its great fascination – which to outsiders often seems an obsession – is more than sufficient to make it an end in itself. For those engaged in it, no other goal is needed, though individuals often have a number of them. (Kuhn)

21.


 

 

If that is the case, however, the rationality of the standard list of criteria for evaluating scientific belief is obvious. Accuracy, precision, scope, simplicity, fruitfulness, consistency, and so on, simply are the criteria which, puzzle solvers must weigh in deciding whether or not a given puzzle about the match between phenomena and belief has been solved. Except that they need not all be satisfied at once, they are the “defining” characteristics of the solved puzzle. It is for maximizing the precision with which, and the range within which, they apply that scientists are rewarded. To select a law or theory which exemplified them less fully than an existing competitor would be self-defeating, and self-defeating action is the surest index of irrationality. (Kuhn)

22.