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Archive for November, 2010

“The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” introduced the phrase ‘paradigm change’ into the philosophy of science and with that phrase came a radical new view of scientific progress. The abandonment of one scientific theory and replacement with another was no longer to be considered as anĀ objective process. It is “not the sort of battle that can be resolved by proofs”[1]. To discuss the mechanism of theory change is therefore to talk “about techniques of persuasion, or about argument and counterargument in a situation in which there can be no proof”[2]. This has led many commentators to interpret Kuhn as a relativist. If Kuhn’s analysis were accurate then scientific advancement would be just a “matter for mob psychology”[3], not “based on good reasons of any kind, factual or otherwise”[4]. Kuhn spent much of his later life arguing against this analysis of his position. I consider part of his argument, predominantly from “Objectivity, Value Judgement, and Theory Choice”, in an attempt to elucidate Kuhn’s defence.

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