Today we looked at Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn surveys the history of scientific theorizing and draws a surprising conclusion: science isn’t a single, coherent project, but rather a succession of incompatible accounts of the world, or ‘paradigms’.
Scientists move between, or ‘shift’ paradigms not because one paradigm is ever refuted, but because one great scientist grows interested in a problem and that problem leads to a new paradigm. Although scientists usually aim for things like accuracy, consistency, a broad scope, simplicity and fruitfulness, the way they assign weight to those things and even the way they understand them is constantly changing. In that way, we saw, science is a bit like fashion. It changes, though we would be hard pressed to say why, and when it has changed it is difficult even to remember how we could ever have found the earlier paradigm so natural.