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“The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn Essay


Forward-looking educators seek to improve their understanding of teaching practices (Lavigne & Good, 2015). An essential part of the continuous improvement process is the development and evaluation of the robustness of educational theories with the help of objective methodologies. It has to be borne in mind that no theory can emerge outside a conceptual matrix or a paradigm. Therefore, it is of utter importance to understand fundamental changes that occur within a body of scientific knowledge with respect to basic theoretical assumptions of a discipline. The paper aims to outline three questions related to Thomas Kuhn’s book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions for the consideration of the class.

Discussion

The articulation of new theories and assumptions about the nature of both physical and immaterial reality inevitably leads to the transformation of science. This transformation can be either cumulative or revolutionary, which has been beautifully demonstrated by Kuhn (1996). The scholar argues that the evenness of scientific development is episodically disrupted by the introduction of new frameworks of cognitive organization. At such periods of revolutionary disturbance, the rigid structure of science is reviewed to accommodate new explanations for piling abnormalities that cannot be squared with old disciplinary matrices.

The scholar’s approach to science helps to understand that a paradigm change cannot occur without a crisis (Kuhn, 1996). This view is closely aligned with Popper’s proposition that an existence of a scientific anomaly necessitates a revolutionary change of a theory (as cited in Barseghyan, 1996). Therefore, the first point that should be considered by the class is whether or not the current educational theories are characterized by the presence of contradictory pieces of evidence.

Kuhn has often been criticized for his relativistic approaches to both philosophy and history (Hessenbruch, 2013; Stegmuller, 2013). However, in his book, the scholar does not assert that there is a presence of several independent standpoints of rationality with respect to the truth. Contrary to the criticism leveled at his analysis of scientific history, Kuhn (1996) asserts that paradigm shifts redefine the meaning of rationality.

In addition, the scholar argues that in order to conduct research, scientists do not necessarily have to be aware of all constituent parts of a paradigm. Thus, it can be argued that the process of dislodging a scientific paradigm by a new one is congruous with a nonrelativistic approach. Therefore, the class should discuss whether or not the existence of rationality gaps can be explained by relativism of disciplinary matrices?

Kuhn’s (1996) analysis of scientific progress is crowned by the assertion that this process does not unfold steadily. Instead, it is punctuated by sudden bursts of concept alterations during which the existing structures of scientific knowledge are superseded by new ones. A corollary to this proposition is that shifts in scientific paradigms occur randomly. Thagard challenges Kuhn’s assertion that scientific discovery is a non-linear process (as cited in Gonzalez, 2011). The scientist’s analysis of several historical cases points to the fact that the adoption of new theoretical matrices is a rational process that falls in line with the search of interpretive consistency. Thus, it is necessary to consider whether or not Thagard’s insight deserves merit.

Discussion Questions

The following questions will be addressed to the class:

  • Whether or not the current educational theories are characterized by the presence of rationality gaps?
  • Does the relativism of scientific paradigms explain the existence of contradictory pieces of evidence?
  • Does the introduction of new scientific paradigms occur randomly?

Conclusion

The paper has presented three questions related to Kuhn’s discussion of scientific paradigms. The class will be encouraged to discuss rationality gaps in current educational theories, relativism of the scholar’s argument, and linearity of the scientific process.

References

Barseghyan, H. (2015). The laws of scientific change. New York, NY: Springer.

Gonzalez, W. (2011). Conceptual revolutions: From cognitive science to medicine. London, England: Netbiblo.

Hessenbruch, A. (2013). Reader’s guide to the history of science. Abington, England: Routledge.

Kuhn, T. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Lavigne, A. L., & Good, T. L. (2015). Improving teaching through observation and feedback: Beyond state and federal mandates. Abington, England: Routledge.

Stegmuller, W. (2013). The structure and dynamics of theories. New York, NY: Springer.

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IvyPanda. (2020, October 8). "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-structure-of-scientific-revolutions-by-thomas-kuhn/

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""The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn." IvyPanda, 8 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-structure-of-scientific-revolutions-by-thomas-kuhn/.

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IvyPanda. ""The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn." October 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-structure-of-scientific-revolutions-by-thomas-kuhn/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn." October 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-structure-of-scientific-revolutions-by-thomas-kuhn/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn'. 8 October.

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