Paradigms: mental prisons?
After the publication of "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (hereafter SScR), the opponents of Kuhn’s theory of science focused their attacks on the thesis that there is Normal Science. Salient among these criticisms is a very disturbing claim which was hold both by Popper (1970) and by Watkins (1970) in the Congress of Philosophy of Science (1965). Both philosophers contend that, if we admit that there is Normal Science, we would have to accept the absurd consequence that scientific theories become dogmatic. In this paper, I shall show that Kuhn’s thesis does not have the disastrous consequences before mentioned, that Popper and Watkins give an incredibly distorted image of what Normal Science and paradigms amount to, and that Popper’s central argument to this effect has several defects. To make my case, I shall contrast the historical patterns identified by Kuhn in the Normal Science episodes with the characteristics attributed to them by his critics. I shall start by considering Hooke’s contributions to classic mechanics to refute the idea that one of the distinguishing attributes of “normal scientists” is doctrinaire adherence; i.e., that the normal scientist is forced to endorse a particular theory by authority or fashion.
Keywords: Paradigms, normal science, dominant theory, dogma, classical particle mechanics.
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