The structure of scientific revolutions
Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions
research project does not fall into this anticipated result range, it is generally considered a failure.
So why do research? Results add to the scope and precision with which a paradigm can be applied. The way to
obtain the results usually remains very much in doubt - this is the challenge of the puzzle. Solving the puzzle
can be fun, and expert puzzle-solvers make a very nice living. To classify as a puzzle (as a genuine research
question), a problem must be characterised by more than the assured solution, but at the same time solutions
should be consistent with paradigmatic assumptions.
Despite the fact that novelty is not sought and that accepted belief is generally not challenged, the scientific
enterprise can and does bring about unexpected results.
V - The Priority of Paradigms.
The paradigms of a mature scientific community can be determined with relative ease. The "rules" used by
scientists who share a paradigm are not so easily determined. Some reasons for this are that scientists can
disagree on the interpretation of a paradigm. The existence of a paradigm need not imply that any full set of
rules exist. Also, scientists are often guided by tacit knowledge - knowledge acquired through practice and that
cannot be articulated explicitly. Further, the attributes shared by a paradigm are not always readily apparent.
Paradigms can determine normal science without the intervention of discoverable rules or shared assumptions.
In part, this is because it is very difficult to discover the rules that guide particular normal-science traditions.
Scientists never learn concepts, laws, and theories in the abstract and by themselves. They generally learn
these with and through their applications. New theory is taught in tandem with its application to a concrete
range of phenomena.
Sub-specialties are differently educated and focus on different applications for their research findings. A
paradigm can determine several traditions of normal science that overlap without being coextensive.
Consequently, changes in a paradigm affect different sub-specialties differently. "A revolution produced within
one of these traditions will not necessarily extend to the others as well".
When scientists disagree about whether the fundamental problems of their field have been solved, the search
for rules gains a function that it does not ordinarily possess .
VI - Anomaly and the Emergence of Scientific Discoveries.
If normal science is so rigid and if scientific communities are so close-knit, how can a paradigm change take
place? Paradigm changes can result from discovery brought about by encounters with anomaly.
Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none. Nonetheless, new
and unsuspected phenomena are repeatedly uncovered by scientific research, and radical new theories have
again and again been invented by scientists . Fundamental novelties of fact and theory bring about paradigm
change. So how does paradigm change come about? There are two ways: through discovery - novelty of fact -
or by invention – novelty of theory. Discovery begins with the awareness of anomaly - the recognition that
nature has violated the paradigm-induced expectations that govern normal science. The area of the anomaly is
then explored. The paradigm change is complete when the paradigm has been adjusted so that the anomalous
become the expected. The result is that the scientist is able "to see nature in a different way".. How paradigms
change as a result of invention is discussed in greater detail in the following chapter.
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