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The development of science. Matthias Hoeh, Imperial College London, November 2005. The development of science. The science of science. Introduction Popper Kuhn Feyerabend Summary. How does science “work”? This is a big questions first tried to answer in the 20 th century!

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the development of science

The development of science

Matthias Hoeh, Imperial College London, November 2005

the science of science
The development of scienceThe science of science

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

How does science “work”?

This is a big questions first tried to answer in the 20th century!

George Alfred Leon Sarton (1884-1956) is considered the founder of this discipline.

The topic gained greater attention after World War II.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

Today, there are 3 major models of the development of science.

popper s model of positivism
Sir Karl Popper(1902 – 1994)

The development of science

Popper’s model of positivism

Popper states:

Progress is achieved through falsification of incorrect theories.

The upcoming theory will then be nearer to the truth.

 science as linear process, an accumulation of knowledge

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

The more recent theory contains the older one

model of scientific revolutions
Thomas Kuhn(1922 – 1996)

The development of science

Model of scientific revolutions

The progess of science is not linear, but revolutionary.

Old and new theories are incompatible.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

This is the relevant concept today.

First introduced 1962 in Kuhn’s book

“the structure of scientific revolutions”

introduction to kuhn s model
The development of scienceIntroduction to Kuhn’s model

A scientific community is defined by its common beliefs.

Theories, methods, and standards their members have in common are called paradigm.

normal science: scientific community claims to know how the world is like.

An anomaly can undermine the existing tradition of scientific practice.

Then, a scientific revolution can take place: a shift in professional assumptions

(e.g. Copernicus revolution).

A scientific revolution is a paradigm shift. Scientists will always try to resist such a change.

New and old paradigm are incompatible. You can’t compare them (incommensurate).

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

what is normal science
The development of scienceWhat is “normal science”?

Normal science is based on past scientific achievements (paradigms)

Normal science is puzzle-solving!

To become a member of a scientific community students have to study its paradigm

Normal science consists in

  • extending knowledge about facts that the paradigm describes.
  • increasing the consistency between nature and the predictions
  • further articulation of the paradigm itself to extend its application and accuracy

Normal science brings all the well known problems:

  • determination of significant fact
  • matching of fact with theory
  • articulation and specification of the theory

If there is a research, there is always an aim. No one will be just looking around.

Unexpected results are first considered a failure or will often not be published.

Of course, science does produce unexpected results!

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

paradigms for normal science
The development of scienceParadigms for normal science

The rules of normal science are always derived from one paradigm.

There is no science without a paradigm.

The scientist can disagree on the interpretation of the paradigm.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

encountering anomalies
The development of scienceEncountering anomalies

If normal science is successful it produces no new theories and facts.

Anyhow unsuspected phenomena come up and need to be dealt with.

One possible aftermath: anomaly  discovery  …  paradigm-shift

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

opposing anomalies
The development of scienceOpposing anomalies

Novelties are always opposed by manifested expectations.

Normal science first tries to suppress novelties.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

Example 1: the Michelson-Morley-Experiment

Example 2: Playing card experiment

what card is being shown?

crises in normal science
The development of scienceCrises in normal science

First, if the puzzle is not solved, it discredits only the scientist and not the theory.

But a continuously resisting anomaly can indicate a failure in an existing theory.

That can lead to a crisis!

  • Invention of new theories boosts

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

crises in normal science11
The development of scienceCrises in normal science

Example: The Ptolemaic system of sun, stars and planets

Old system:

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

Copernicus’ idea was not yet necessary

New system

(with epicycles)

Generally more than one construction can be placed over a given collection of data

Once a paradigm has established, others are strongly resisted.

Only another crisis gives the opportunity to rethink.

extraordinary science
The development of scienceExtraordinary science…

…a response to a crisis! Theory and paradigm-testing period.

Crisis loosens rules and theoretical stereotypes.

Indicates important data for fundamental new theories.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

3 ways to close a crisis:

  • Normal science finally solves the puzzle and returns to normal research.
  • The problem is set aside due to a lack of necessary tool for further investigation.

A new candidate for paradigm emerges, and a battle over its acceptance ensues.

A new candidate for paradigm emerges, and a battle over its acceptance ensues.

…transition to a new paradigm

“picking up the other end of the stick”

“scientists do not see something as something else; instead, they simply see it”

scientific revolutions
The development of scienceScientific Revolutions

Normal research is cumulative, scientific revolutions are not!

New paradigm is incompatible with the old one  different predictions

(old problems are assigned to other sciences or declared unscientific)

Normal science can have only 1 paradigm at a time.

No paradigm = no science!

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

how to chose a paradigm
The development of scienceHow to chose a paradigm

Each community uses its own paradigmatic language for its defence.

  • Evaluation of paradigms impossible!
  • Choice is made by logic and persuasive argumentation
  • Aesthetic reasons, like simplicity and elegance, influence the choice

The question is not whether or not a theory fits, but which one fits better.

The important idea of a new paradigm is often brought by newcomers!

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

Why does a shift in view occur?

Because the existing paradigm fails to fit!

the invisibility of revolutions
The development of scienceThe invisibility of revolutions

The support for a new paradigm has to grow.

Competent supporters will upgrade the paradigm.

It is a long process, until the resistance of the old tradition supporters fades.

Once a new theory is accepted the old ones tend to simply disappear.

Example: In Textbooks revolutions are not indicated,

although books have to be rewritten

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

"A science that hesitates to forget its founders is lost".

(A.Whitehead)

where is the progress
The development of scienceWhere is the progress?

Linear progress takes place during normal science.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

…until the paradigm fails!

Then a scientific revolution (non-linear) is necessary to make another period of progress in a new paradigm possible.

“truth” is not the ultimate criterion for science.

 Paradigm changes don’t bring scientist closer and closer to the truth.

Process of science is not going towards something.

Example: evolution of organisms, which proceeds without a special goal!

overview of kuhn s model
The structure of scientific revolutions

Nature

New theories to conserve the old paradigm

Experiment

Theory

Anomaly

Discovery

Crisis

Adjusted theory

Extraordinary science

Normal science

Theories on the basis of a certain Paradigm

Paradigm shift / scientific revolution

No solution

(due to lack of ideas or possibilities for further investigation. Problem is set aside)

New paradigms

The development of science

Overview of Kuhn’s model

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

relevance today
The development of scienceRelevance today

Kuhn’s model is the most accepted concept about the development of science.

Nevertheless it was extensively criticised and it still is.

Some people blamed him for divorcing science from truth.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

feyerabend s opposing model
Paul Feyerabend(1924 – 1994)

The development of science

Feyerabend’s opposing model

Paul Feyerabend, Pluralistic philosopher and former physicist,

went further than Kuhn did.

He developed one of the major opposing models, which is much more radical.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

New theories have little to do with previous theories.

They are incoherent and inconsistent.

against method
The development of scienceAgainst method

Feyerabend is against falsification - it would enable any theory to rise, even if it brings many unsolved problems.

Lack of consistent methodologies makes it impossible to label inquiries

“scientific” or “non-scientific”.

Suggestion: pluralistic methodology for the investigation of knowledge.

Many forms of knowledge which were formerly considered as “non-scientific” were later accepted.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

today s view on science
The development of scienceToday’s view on science

Many theories have been published in the decades after Kuhn’s.

They can be classified somewhere in between the 3 presented models.

Introduction

Popper

Kuhn

Feyerabend

Summary

Feyerabend

Popper

non-coherent

(too radical for most scientists)

linear accumulation of facts

(formerly predominant )

Kuhn

revolutionary processes

(today’s point of view)

Revolutionary processes in Kuhn’s model were no new idea itself.

They have been successfully used to describe art, some social sciences and politics.

The new idea was to apply it to science.

slide22
Other questions?

“What must the world be like

in order that man may know it?”

(Thomas Kuhn)

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