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Professionalism Term Paper

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Thomas Kuhn’s edition of the Structure of Scientific Revolution that was written in 1962 made him to be regarded as one of the great academician of science. He wrote on the science history and came up with important notions concerning philosophy.

The book ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolution’ made him famous and its one of the academic books that is cited mostly today. Kuhn made significant contributions that helped to create a different approach as far as the philosophy of science is concerned. He came up with a completely different view about life and the scientific changes that occurs during ones lifetime.

He argued that science has really enjoyed stable growth periods that are characterized by revolutions, which are reversionary. The science visionaries that preceded Kuhn did not have any different views but they only made some advancement to what Kuhn had already initiated. Kuhn held the view that science was basically altered profoundly by a new law that brought about significant changes in the field of science.

Just like in politics, science also involves social institutions and thus Kuhn argues that no one scientist can work alone and that science are usually conducted by a group of scientists who have a similar research agenda. Kuhn also presented the idea that science usually doesn’t evolve towards truth gradually but instead there arises some periodic revolutions known as paradigm shifts i.e. the journey towards scientific revolution is marathon one but not an instant one (Kuhn, 1962).

This paper explores the meaning of the period of pre-science and normal science according to Kuhn. The paper also distinguishes the two periods by the use of the period of mercantilism as well as the century of classical economics. Finally the paper examines on how the distinctions by the two periods agrees with the Kuhn’s views i.e. to see if there is a correlation between the Kuhn’s distinction of both the pre science and normal science and the classical economists’ mercantilism and the century of classical economics .

Definitions of pre science and normal science

During his analysis on the science history, Kuhn identified that there are normally three phases that are common in the development of science namely; the pre-science, normal science and the emergence of problems.

Kuhn describes the first phase i.e. the pre-science, as a period which was characterized by the absence of consensus regarding the manner in which the theories were developed. Some theorists thus criticize this phase as having no clear explanation about the concepts and development of science while others claims that the theories are too comprehensive as they lack consensus and explanation. Kuhn was noted that the theories in this phase were incomplete and incompatible.

He defined pre-science period as an early development period of field research during which the field is delimiting its scope and subject matter i.e. a period during which the field is establishing its roots. During this period, no single theoretical position or paradigm is sufficiently accepted so as to justify a research effort that is well concerted and this renders the research activity to proceed in a piecemeal manner.

It is also during this period that a range of diverse research topics are researched and the research topics linked in tenuous manners because subject matter itself doesn’t fit well with the defined pre- exiting fields due to the existence of common theoretic themes which are unifying.

The noble trends of this period includes the emergence of the experimental science, as well as the shrinkage of relative distance as a result of the major improvements in communication and transportation and rapid innovation, authoritarian of nations and civic politics (Arbeitskreis, 1961)

The pre -science period is replaced by normal science. Kuhn termed this period ‘normal science’ because the study field is deemed to be mature to hold a consensus view that is in accordance with the theories and methods that are used in understanding the subject. Normal science is deemed to occur once the scientists agree sufficiently on the fundamentals that allow evaluation of the contested claims through sharing of the standards. Normal science emerges after one of the theories in pre-science wins.

A scientist who is working within the normal period phase has theories in which Kuhn equates to the paradigm based kind of research i.e. the research that is based firmly upon the precedent of scientific achievements. Normal research is usually characterized by the emergence of only one paradigm with sufficient power capable of attracting others from the various competing scientific fields. Normal science activities are distinct and separate from the activities that occur during the paradigm crisis and the prescience.

Kuhn held the view that mature science is as a result of the revolutions that occurs during the normal periods. In normal periods, scientists strive to solve problems arising from the need to view the world as one paradigm. Normal science development is a crucial step as far as the advancement of a given field is concerned. Kuhn (1962) argued that the emergence of parallel professionalism like specialist journalists is signs of the existence of normal science.

Thomas Kuhn demonstrates that intellectual commitments are usually held in a tenaciously manner and that they can rarely be dislodged either by logic or evidence which is contrary. This is because the ideologies or commitments are suited to come up with scientific descriptions concerning the manner in which the work is performed and also constituting normative positions entailing the manner in which the entire globe should work.

Mercantilism and the century of classical economics Period

The economic theory of mercantilism talks about a nation’s prosperity in terms of production capacity and other related parameters. It holds a nation’s prosperity .It was the overriding theory in Europe during the early period i.e. from 15th to 18th century. During this period, the workers carried on production and also controlled the production means. Merchants were the capitalists and the capital mainly consisted of inventories and money.

This period reflected the transition of economic conditions based on the improvement in the production capacity of the workers. Adam Smith who was an economist came up with the Mercantilism philosophy through the publication of book that was referred to as the Wealth of Nations (Smith, 1976). Like the science structure by Kuhn, Mercantilism philosophy was characterized by transitions. The earliest period of Mercantilism usually resulted at a time during which the entire Europe region was facing shortage of silver and gold.

The period was referred to as bullionsim period and the silver and gold were being termed as bullions and they were valued mainly by weights because there were no paper currencies then. European nations did not have money needed to service the trade volume, which was expanding very rapidly. Bullion policies were thus devised and were aimed at attracting a smooth flow of silver and gold to a given country and also to prohibit their export by keeping them.

These restrictions however lasted until seventeenth century. Spain was the only country that applied the bullionist restrictions for a long period as compared to other European Nations. This was due to the fact that most gold originating from America flowed to Spain directly. This period of mercantilism however is similar to the prescience period as illustrated by Kuhn (Stiles & Akaha, 1991).

After this period, the desire by Mercantile to maximize silver and gold within a given country facilitated the major attempts by government to design a balance of trade that is favorable. This saw the rise in export of different goods as well as insuring and shipping of those goods. Other measures that were taken in order to encourage trade were monopoly patents issuance e.t.c. These advancements gave some individuals exclusive rights to practice all kind of trades in a certain area.

The main reason behind the monopoly rights was to encourage the spirit of inventions. After sometime, the monopoly rights later became severally abused and in turn contributed to a patronage and privileges complex systems. This is in contrary with the Kuhn’s scientific periods whereby the second period of mercantile brought some form of inconveniences rather than advancements (Guzzini, 1998).

Adam Smith could be considered as the father of classical economies because through his work “The wealth of Nation’s” in 1776 is regarded as its commencement. Classical economies as a term were coined by an economist by the name Karl Marx. It is a set of scientific theories whose proponents were economists if the 19th century who had major concerns in the scientific revolution and dynamism of economic growth.

The classical economists helped in producing magnificent dynamics at a time when there was emergence of capitalism from feudalism. Also, it was during this period that there were vast changes in the society as a result of industrial revolution. The changes caused the society to seek for an organized system where each person could attain monetary gains by devoting their skills and other resources in production.

The classical economists and their immediate predecessors have shifted the economies from individualism to cater for the national border interests where everything is done in the interest of the nation as a whole. The wealth of nations by Adam Smith and the subsequent policies that were devised later enhanced economic growth among nations and it was considered as major developments as far as classical economies are concerned (Ekelund & Hebert, 2007).

While reacting against the mercantilism theory, classical economics stressed on economic free ideas that were stress free for instance free competition and leissez-faire system. Many principles of this theory originated from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations through which nation’s wealth was considered to be the greatest as citizens continued to pursue their individual interests.

Classical economics as a theory assumes the principle of labor and full employment. The lapses that occur from full employment are considered as only abnormal. Their explanation however does not form a part of classical economics subject matter (Kurtz et al, 2007 pg.65).

Just like Kuhn’s scientific theories, the mercantilism theory and classical economies theory are similar in that the theories have been accepted generally by the economists and have therefore been revised period after period.

Although the underlying principles have over the years been elaborated and refined by different writers, they usually forms the core of any arguments and cannot in one way or another be phased out. For instance, the classical principles have been widely accepted world wide thus rendering them to be labeled classical (Salmon, 1999).

Thomas Kuhn in his structure of Scientific Revolutions argues that natural sciences history has been faced with periodic crises especially when paradigm is rejected, challenged and displaced by the emergence of new paradigm.

The process thus is characterized with both sociological and well epistemological aspects which are defined by the cognitive and regulative nature of the paradigm period. However, besides Keynesian revolution, no change in paradigm phases has been experienced as compared to those of natural sciences. This is because of the economic paradigm nature, which is not exposed to falsification, and also less precise.

Crucial experiments and critical anomalies do not occur in economics as opposed to natural sciences. The paradigm change process may therefore serve well as an important type for clarifying the interrelationships that exists between the conceptual, terminological, professional and personal elements which are involved in advancement of economic ideas and opinions like those episodes that results from classical economics emergence (Guzzini, 1998).

Compared to economic theory, the scientific theory lacks progress because scientific theories are usually deemed to be great than the theories that are advanced by the predecessors as they are assumed to represent the true picture of nature.


Thomas Kuhn wrote Structure of Scientific Revolution in 1962. This made him a renowned great academician of science. In his writings, he made important notions about philosophy. This made him to be a famous academician. In his work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), Kuhn identified periods of prehistory and century of pre science.

Kuhn’s definition of pre science and century of normal science has great similarities to what is perceived from mercantilism and century of classical economics. Kuhn concluded by mentioning that the field of science has been susceptible to prejudice fad, fashion and delusion in one way or another as a result of human endeavors.

Reference List

Arbeitskreis, G. (1961). Eastern Germany, Economy Holzner-Verlag. German: Wuerzburg

Ekelund, R.B. & Hebert, R. F. (2007). A history of economic theory and method, fifth edition. Canada: McGraw-Hill Publishing

Guzzini, S. (1998). Realism in international relations and international political economy. US: Routledge.

Kuhn, T. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago press.

Kurz, H et.al. (2007). Interpreting classical economic studies in long-period analysis. New York: Routledge.

Salmon, M. (1999). Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.Pg.326.

Smith, A. (1976). An inquiry into the nature and the causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: J.Dent, p.406.

Stiles, K. & Akaha, T. (1991). International political economy. New York: HarperCollins

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