In Chapter 3 of Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ he focuses on the ‘nature of normal science’ and interestingly gives due consideration both to qualitative and quantitative approaches. The core essence of this chapter lies in three tenets:
1. That ‘normal science’ within a paradigm establishes significant facts
2. That ‘normal science’ attempts to relate facts to theory
3. That ‘normal science’ aims to expand upon theory
These key features of Kuhn’s concept of ‘normal science’ also pre-empt his later discussion of scientific revolutions. What is also interesting about this chapter is that Kuhn again relates scientific paradigms to social structures within the scientific community. For example a successful paradigm will address some of the acute problems faced by the scientific community. Kuhn also makes a point about the complexity of nature being made to ‘fit’ into the relatively rigid structure of a paradigm. While on the subject it is also tempting to apply the same argument to Kuhn’s approach to paradigms in the sense that this is a generalisation about quite complex activities in a vast range of different sciences. This in itself deserves further reflection as it would mean that the concepts of paradigms, normal science and revolutionary science can be subject to the same iterative process he suggests to apply to science itself although strictly speaking this is philosophy. Kuhn has some interesting comments about those that do not work in paradigms and how such scientists are generally ignored by the scientific community unless they are part of a revolutionary movement. As with previous chapters Kuhn offers the reader much to reflect on.
Thomas Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Narrated by Dennis Holland. (Paperback originally published in 1962). Audible. 2009.
For a review of Chapter 1 see here.
For a review of Chapter 2 see here.
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