Thomas Kuhn

Decent Essays
An Analysis of Section III of Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Karl Popper argues that theories cannot be considered scientific if they do not leave any room for the possibility of being false (P.O.S. 473-474). He argues that scientists must strive to prove themselves wrong rather than right, because while there may be a hundred pieces of ‘evidence’ to support a theory, it only takes one to knock the entire idea to the ground. Thomas Kuhn disagrees with this generalization based on the argument that how science should be done is very different than how it is done and that scientists very rarely try to prove their theories false. Instead, Kuhn presents science not linear or cumulative as Popper suggests, but rather
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As Kuhn explains it, normal science operates within an accepted paradigm or well-accepted theory. Normal science does not aim to disprove a theory or to seek out a new theory, but instead it aims to work, research, and experiment within the realms of an already accepted theory in order to improve its accuracy and solve related problems (P.O.S. 490). Extraordinary science arises when a significant contradiction – or anomaly as Kuhn refers to it – is presented that cannot possibly be accounted for under the current paradigm. This initiates a period of scientific revolution, in which new theories are presented and the best one outcompetes the others to become the new accepted paradigm (P.O.S. 490). The cycle begins over as normal science once again begins to take hold, this time within the limits of the new paradigm. In reference to this cycle, Kuhn refers to normal science as a “mopping-up operation”. The chaos of this scientific revolution and the presentation of the new paradigm leaves as many questions as it solves. It is then the job of normal science to experiment within the restrictions of the new paradigm and ‘mop up’ the mess of questions left in the aftermath.…show more content…
There are terms used in which their given definitions lack clarification and consistency. His definition of paradigm, as defined in section II for example, essentially states that it is a theory that is unique and intriguing enough to attract enough supporters and that it leaves a significant amount of questions (P.O.S. 490). Later on in the section, he defines it simply as a theory that “seems better than its competitors” (Kuhn – P.O.S 491). Kuhn describes in section III, three ‘foci’ of normal science. The first focus is a presentation of facts that through normal science, has been determined to describe something’s nature within the paradigm (P.O.S. 492). However, just a few paragraphs later Kuhn admits that in reality, there are very few instances when a paradigm can actually be compared with nature (P.O.S. 493). This presents an issue in the applicability of his theory especially in the more theoretical or mathematical sciences. In this sense, normal science cannot work in these disciplines without making often inexact and unobservable estimations within which to work with (P.O.S. 493). This defect is emphasized by Popper, who stresses the use of deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning states that if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true; consequently, if the conclusion is true, then the premises must be true. Because of this, any conclusion drawn from the use
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