Review of Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’. Chapter 12.

Chapter 12 in Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ is titled ‘The Resolution of Revolutions’. Kuhn suggests that those involved in scientific revolutions have characteristics which are different from those of scientists involved in ‘normal science’. Thus he suggests that such scientists are usually new to the field and for various reasons are not under an obligation to operate within the boundaries of the paradigm but instead are able to challenge the paradigm itself. He then goes onto talk about the validations of theories and this gets quite interesting. Kuhn categorises the validation approaches as follows

1. Categorical

2. Probabilistic

So the first question to ask about the validation process is whether or not a theory completely accounts for the experimental data. In a categorical model of theories, the theory would be expected to account for all of the data. However this would be unrealistic and Kuhn suggests instead that most scientists consider a probabilistic model of theory validation in which the theory accounts for most of the experimental findings. Another approach to validation of theories is also considered by Kuhn contrasting

1. Identification of evidence for the theory

2. Falsification

A theory can thus be validated by the identification of supporting evidence or by surviving attempts to falsify the theory with experimental observations which do not fit with the theory’s predictions. The suggestion of a principle of falsification in science was developed by Karl Popper. Kuhn then refers back to anomalies in the experimental data which are sufficient to generate a challenge to the dominant paradigm. This allows the beginning of an appraisal of the paradigm itself but it is only when the conflicting paradigm is developed that the necessary debate can begin. Kuhn then gives some of the characteristics of the subsequent debate which results in the resolution of revolutions. This is an elegant chapter with Kuhn drawing together the threads from previous chapters into a narrative with powerful explanatory properties.

References

Thomas Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Narrated by Dennis Holland. (Paperback originally published in 1962). Audible. 2009.

Appendix

For a review of the Introduction see here.

For a review of Chapter 1 see here.

For a review of Chapter 2 see here.

For a review of Chapter 3 see here.

For a review of Chapter 4 see here.

For a review of Chapter 5 see here.

For a review of Chapter 6 see here.

For a review of Chapter 7 see here.

For a review of Chapter 8 see here.

For a review of Chapter 9 see here.

For a review of Chapter 10 see here.

For a review of Chapter 11 see here.

In Support of Method – Critique of Feyerebend’s ‘Against Method’ see here.

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