6 Kuhn's Scientific Revolutions Flashcards Preview

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What was Kuhn's stage model of how a scientific discipline proceeds?

1. Pre-science
2. Normal/paradigmatic science
3. Crisis-revolution
4. New paradigm
5. New crisis


What are the characteristics of Kuhn's 'pre-science' period?

No agreement on methodology. Radical pluralism of views held by scientists. E.g. optics before Newton, chemistry before Boyle


How does the pre-science period transition to paradigmatic science?

When one of pre-paradigm schools triumphs – develops theory that attracts MOST other practitioners –> then Scientific Paradigm.


What makes a theory attractive in the pre-science stage?

Greater problem-solving ability


Is scientific knowledge accrued cumulatively over time?

No! Knowledge from old paradigm is replaced by knowledge of the new paradigm.


On which areas of psychology did Kuhn's account have the most impact? And why?

On soft areas of psych that were more concerned with scientific status. Education, developmental, personality, psychodynamic – those engaged with non-experimental science.

Allowed soft areas to define themselves as ‘science’ because they have their own paradigm – just as valuable as any other – whose status can be justified.


On what branches of science is Kuhn's account based?

Kuhn’s account of Science based on the physical sciences only (not biology or psychology)


What is Kuhn's incommensurability thesis?

The idea that the new paradigm is not only incompatible but also incommensurable with the old. They are incapable of being measured against a neutral standard.


Kuhn suggested that scientific progress happens ______ paradigms but not ________ paradigms

Kuhn suggested that scientific progress happens within paradigms but not between paradigms.


What is the aim of the paradigmatic period?

In paradigmatic period, aim is not to discover new phenomena (scientists view is restricted). Paradigmatic science consists of ‘mopping up operations’. In the cleaning up there is scientific progress. It involves sophisticated, in-depth work that allows the scientific community to elaborate in great detail the phenomena and theories that the paradigm has supplied.


What heralds the coming of a scientific crisis?

- Anomalies – phenomena that can't be explained – appear in paradigm and start to mount up, resisting solution.

- Scientists look for a new paradigm. Proliferation of speculative theories.


How does Kuhn define a paradigm?

Not very well.

FH: "Paradigm consists of a body of sometimes implicit theoretical and methodological beliefs, metaphysical assumptions, methodological conventions and criteria (according to how you evaluate a theory). Together, this complex network of assumptions, theory, methods, conventions (e.g. alpha = .05), make up the paradigm.


How is a scientific community defined within a discipline, according to Kuhn?

By internalisation of the same paradigm.


How does the paradigm determine how science is done?

The paradigm defines the problems you will research, and provides you with possible solutions. Powerful hidden causal agent.


What happens if problems CANNOT be solved within a paradigm? 3 things

1. The paradigm loosens its rules.

2. Search for an alternative paradigm becomes more rigorous and concerted.

3. Ensues period of ‘paradigm debate’


What are some examples of scientific revolutions?

Shift from Ptolemaic astronomy to Copernican.

Shift from Newtonian to Einsteinian physics.


Why does paradigm debate become simply 'a matter of persuasion'?

Because there are no external standards to help rationally decide between paradigms. Scientists speaking different languages.


What reasons generally cause paradigm shift?

Social, economic, political, psychological reasons, as conversion of individuals happens for non-scientific reasons – Will I get published? Will I get a job?

Objectivity in assessing paradigms is an illusion


What was physicist Alan Sokal's response to the suggestion that physical laws are a social construct?

"Anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my apartment. I live on the twenty-first floor."