Thomas Samuel Kuhn was one of the few philosophers of sciences who had influenced scientists. Kuhn as one of the historically most significant philosophers of the twentieth century, and his influence beyond the philosophy of the science. It is not only in the history of science but also in the widely variety of areas in humanities and social sciences. The famous of his work was The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962. (Andersen, 2001) It is a foundation of the contemporary scientific thinking research. Whether approved or criticism, the fact that the theory of him was being applied in a wide range of areas of academic, intellectual, and social activity. His contribution to the philosophy science was not only a break with several important positivist doctrines but also inaugurated a new style of philosophy of science that brought it much closer to the history of science. (Bird, 2000) This essay will explain Kuhn’s paradigm, critical of his viewpoint and explanation of how science develops.
In the publication of the book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, Kuhn firstly came up with that concept of a paradigm in that book. Paradigm is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a pattern, exemplar. He believed that a normal science was established by an important book and a series of experiments. The Kuhn’s core concept was paradigm and it was a theoretical system in essentially. He showed that paradigm was an accepted pattern and model. (Kuhn, 1996) Kuhn claimed to discover the pattern of normal science-crisis-revolution. The explanation of his theory on pattern was positing the existence and nature of paradigms. Kuhn used the paradigm with two different senses in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Bird, 2000). One sense of ‘paradigm’ was global, including all the commitments of scientific group and the other isolated a important sort of commitment. It was a broad notion and sociological one. Then, Kuhn used the term ‘exemplar’ as the paradigm in the second, narrower of Kuhn’s senses. Paradigms as exemplars were a set of recurring and quasi-standard illustrations of various theories in conceptual, observational and instrumental applications. The community’s paradigms were revealed in textbook, lecture and laboratory exercises. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2004)
The British scholar Margaret Masterman was investigated the Kuhn’s paradigm, then listed the 21 different types of meaning. At last, Margaret summarized the three different aspects. Firstly, it is a belief, a philosophy paradigm. Secondly, it is a habit of the science, a sociology paradigm. Thirdly, it is a tool that relied on the itself succeed, a constitution paradigm. (Forster, 1998)
Kuhn thought that the scientists who are working under the same paradigm, it was easily to find common methods, aims, standards and agreement on nature of the world and processes. The function of normal science was to extend the original work by applying its methods to new areas. Because normal science was based on agreement and had well-defined parameters, it could make progress and accumulate knowledge. (David, 2005) In summary, Kuhn’s view was scientists were exposed to exemplary problem solutions, they could directly perceive some new proposed solution. The breakthrough of the Kuhn’s paradigm led to the scientific revolution, thus made the science a new appearance.
Critical of Kuhn’s concept
The Kuhn’s concept of paradigm was criticized by some of the philosophers, for too vague and broad. Kuhn conceded that the term was perhaps too broad, saying that he would use paradigm to mean ‘exemplar’. Kuhn was also accused that in order to determine the nature of the paradigm behind a particular period of normal science, the historian must first determine which scientists belong to that group and then study their work to discover their aims and methods. However, since normal science was defined in terms of a paradigm and the historian must also recognize a paradigm first in order to know which scientists are working under it. (Bird, 2000) Kuhn acknowledged that this was indeed a problem, suggesting that scientists should be categorized first on purely sociological grounds.
Some of the problems with the exemplar explanation focus on the exemplar concept itself. There were four functions of exemplars and three of them were together- puzzle identification, solution identification and research assessment which meant puzzle-solving functions. The fourth one – the semantic function of exemplars, having little to do with the normal science. A large range of puzzle-solutions did not involve diagrams and experiments before the printed work, not all exemplars as puzzle-solutions were exemplars as concept formers. (Bird, 2000) It was misleading to think that exemplars had the function of evaluation of puzzle questions and puzzle-solutions and the function of concept formation.
Kuhn did not give a clear account of why theories should change when one exemplar replaced another. Kuhn had done us a service in drawing our attention to the existence of relations in scientific judgement. While, Kuhn did not make such a claim the failure to discuss any other sources of judgement. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2004) Furthermore, the Kuhn’s account might be in some doubt and the problem of psychological plausibility would be less pressing if allowed a role for reflective capacities as well. The complaint remains that Kuhn’s nation of exemplar was simply too thin to do justice to the complexities exposed in the detailed description of scientific change.
In brief, Kuhn’s did not find the question of concept in scientific debate and did nothing on instruction of the concept. He also did not solve the relationship between paradigm and constitution theory. The Kuhn’s paradigm was too stiff on the structure and it was hard to change as the time changed. Maybe, the paradigm was undemonstrative, could not be explained fully. It made the scientists hardly understood the debate in science history. (JRank, 2009) Kuhn thought that two scientists using paradigm meant they believed the same paradigm. However, different scientists might use the same theorem or paradigm, the methodology of science were different.
The Development of Science
Kuhn described a picture of the development of science that unlike any they had gone before. In fact, there was a little carefully considered and theoretically explained in scientific change before Kuhn. While, in the 1950s, Kuhn began to study his historical science and it was a new academic discipline. (Bird, 2000) A developed alternative account was articulated by Kuhn who was first and the most important author. It had little formal philosophical training and was fully conscious of his innovation for philosophy.
The normal science did resemble the picture of scientific progress, but it was only on the surface. Kuhn described the normal science as ‘puzzle-solving’. (Kuhn, 1996) Normal science can expect to accumulate a growing stock of puzzle-solutions. According to Kuhn, the scientific revolutions involve to existing scientific belief or practice. Later period of science might find itself without an explanation for a phenomenon that earlier period was held to be explained. It was known as ‘Kuhn-loss’ on the feature of the scientific revolutions.
Kuhn rejected the Popper’s view and the traditional standpoint. He claimed that if a strong commitment by relevant scientific community to share the theoretical beliefs, techniques and values, the normal science could succeed in making progress. (David, 2005) Commitment to the disciplinary matrix was a necessary for successful normal science, it was a key point in science training and became the mind-set of a successful scientist.
Kuhn did briefly mention that the extra-scientific factors might help to decide the outcome of a scientific revolution. Maybe he was the leader of the nationalities and personalities. Some sociologists and historians of science into the thesis that the outcome of a scientific revolution was grown by these suggestions. (Forster, 1998) Any of the development of the science step was always determined by social political factors.
Kuhn made the science done progress, even through the revolutions. (Bird, 2000) Indeed. Kuhn favoured an organism might seem as its response to challenge by its environment. The theories in response to puzzles and progress were solved by the science improved, it was not measured by its progress to an ideal true theory.
Unquestionably, Kuhn was one of the most influential philosophers and historians of science in twentieth century of the world. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was known that a Kuhnian paradigm flourishing in newly formed departments of history and philosophy of science. Furthermore, the fame of Kuhn should be due to his supporters who always on his side. The explanation of Kuhn’s contrasted with explanations in terms of rules of the method. (Fuller, 2000) The Kuhn’s work in the light of development in the relevant sciences, many of which provided corroboration for Kuhn’s claim that science was driven by relations apparent similarity and analogy to current problems and solutions. The Kuhn’s thesis played a outstanding role in our understanding of the science. After reading the work of Kuhn’s, it is easily realized the Kuhn status in the historical of science and philosophy. In the book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions not only the famous theory ‘paradigm’, but also the other important advanced theory were spread all over the world. He really did contribution to the society and the progress of the human beings.