[lit-ideas] Re: Revisiting Kuhn

  • From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2012 10:50:43 +0900

I am, I must admit, finding the continual invocation of the god Popper
tedious. I observe only that where Popper was a philosopher imagining how
science should be, Kuhn was scientist writing about how scientists actually
behave. And, of course, he changed position over time. That's what
scientists do when new evidence is brought to their attention. Unlike
philosophers and their worshippers who seem as stuck in their convictions
as any other fundamentalists.



On Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 7:15 PM, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:

> Briefly for now: The Kuhn v Popper debate is a good book or two of course,
> and more than two books have been written. But it is not one of simple
> oppositions but a debate with give and take on both sides.
> Part of the problem is that Kuhn seems to "shift", and even "shift" again,
> in what he defends.
> The give on Popper's side is to recognise the great importance of "normal
> science" as Kuhn paints it: but the give stops at the point where P wants
> to show that "normal science" is not to be uncritically welcomed but that
> it is a potential threat to scientific progress, as scientific progress is
> advanced by increases in falsifiability. For routine or normal science may
> restrict the range of what is tested in a way that restricts
> falsifiability, and so restricts scientific progress.*
> P's other main criticism is that K's 'paradigm shift' [or gestalt switch]
> view is (perhaps implicitly) a kind of 'fideistic' account of scientific
> change rather than a rational account: and while a non-rational account of
> science may attract legions who are averse to rationalism (which may
> explain K's huge affect), it is nevertheless fundamentally mistaken. For P,
> science remains as rational as human activity gets, and considerably more
> rational than many human activities ever get. (Does K disagree? Not quite,
> rather he "shifts" on his 'feet').
> D
> * 'Normal science' has the dangers of tests merely being designed to
> 'prove' what their sponsors want proved (and 'negative evidence' being
> either not looked for or even hidden away)
>   ------------------------------
> *From:* John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
> *To:* Lit-Ideas <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> *Sent:* Friday, 27 April 2012, 2:49
> *Subject:* [lit-ideas] Revisiting Kuhn
> Arts & Letters Daily popped up this interesting article about our
> misunderstanding of Thomas 
> Kuhn<http://chronicle.com/article/Shift-Happens/131580/>
> .
> Comments, anyone?
> John
> --
> John McCreery
> The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
> Tel. +81-45-314-9324
> jlm@xxxxxxxxxxxx
> http://www.wordworks.jp/

John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
Tel. +81-45-314-9324

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