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Thomas S Kuhn

Thomas S Kuhn

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Published by David Freer
Brief examination of Kuhn's famous work. What is meant by science? How does science progress?
Brief examination of Kuhn's famous work. What is meant by science? How does science progress?

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: David Freer on Feb 22, 2009
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11/18/2012

 
Thomas S. KuhnThe Structure of Scientific RevolutionsReviewed by David Freer Science is a human endeavor built upon
 paradigms
broken by revolutions instead of aninexorable march towards absolute truth. Observation occurs within the framework of a paradigm. Most scientists work as caretakers, mopping up and dealing with details of a paradigm. Every so often, however, a young scientist breaks with convention; the resultis a
 scientific revolution
. From the present, Kuhn discusses Einstein, Maxwell, Newton,and Aristotle, among others. Such scientific breakthroughs from these men may producemore accurate measurements although they are not usually accepted by the rest of thescientific community immediately. Science moves by evolution and revolution; at itsheart it is a human endeavor with fits and stops. The idea of a continuous road to Truthmust be rejected; we are solving puzzles by working within or around a framework.Our language shapes the nature of scientific debate, according to Kuhn. Consider thequestion, “Who discovered Oxygen?” The answer depends on what is meant by oxygen!Complicated scientific history is reduced to a single piece of trivia. Furthermore,textbooks are written to propagate the existing paradigm with little explanation of the process. After the community of scientists agrees on a paradigm, it takes youthfulexuberance of the slightly uninitiated to create a revolution. Though Kuhn is no fan of aneducational system which immerses students in textbooks, he does admit to itseffectiveness (p. 165).
 
Observation and experience are not alone for science. They are necessary elements but itempirical evidence for scientists is, to a certain extent, filtered by beliefs from thecommunity in which they were initiated (p. 4). Scientists examine observationsaccording to an accepted framework. This is normal science. As time progresses moreand more scientific fields are incomprehensible to the uninitiated layman. The currentscholarship is evaluated by communities of scientists who are accepting of the current paradigm. Newton’s theory ‘worked’ for the time and to a certain extent, it still does. Einstein’swork built on the theory yet at the same time revolutionized the way we view theuniverse. The theory ‘works’ and is currently well accepted. Yet there are still anomaliesin the universe which are unexplained by today’s theories. We can surmise changes tooccur. Yet it seems to be in our nature to want to reject the novel as Kuhn interprets theresults of the experiment with the anomalous playing cards (p. 64).Many find Darwin’s theory anomalous to what is taught in the Bible. Consider thecurrent controversy caused by supporters of ‘Intelligent Design’ who believe evolution is
 just a theory
and accordingly stickers should be placed on biology textbooks. In a recent piece about the debate in the New York Magazine, Kurt Anderson paraphrases Kuhn, “Inscience, there is no such thing as fixed, irrefutable truth.”
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The Structure of ScientificRevolutions does not presume that all science or knowledge is equal. A ‘faith-based’approach does not deserve equal time with an approach based on trial and error in his
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