Short Answer Questions (submit online)
- Explain the nature of Normal Science according to Kuhn.
- What is the significance of an 'anomaly' in the Kuhnian picture of theory change?
- During a Kuhnian paradigm shift, what happens to supporters of the old paradigm?
For Further Discussion
- The Copernican Revolution. One of Kuhn's proposals is that we view Ptolemaic astronomy leading up to Copernicus as a period of Normal Science.
- What were the core "unquestionable" features of the Ptolemaic paradigm?
- Can you describe the kinds of activities that would have been legitimate from the perspective of Ptolemaic Normal Science?
- What kinds of phenomena allowed the Copernican revolution to take place according to Kuhn?
- Kuhn in your LSE courses. Think about the other courses you have taken or are taking in which you engage with the social or natural sciences.
- Can you give an example from those courses of a body of knowledge that would constitute a paradigm? What are the characteristic assumptions of the paradigm?
- Are there certain kinds of questions that are not allowed in such paradigms? Which ones?
- Can any of the social sciences be said to have undergone a revolution? Were such revolutions truly irrational as Kuhn suggests?
- Revising the History of Science. Part of Kuhn's story is that the history of science requires a radical revision.
- The Galileo Affair. Galileo is standardly characterised as having faced the harsh criticism of the church in response to his scientific activities and support of Copernicus. What revised description would Kuhn give of this episode?
- Is Kuhn's proposal appropriate? Does it go too far? does it not go far enough? Do the natural and social sciences really undergo revolutions in the Kuhnian sense?
- The problems with Kuhn. Remind yourself of some of the concerns about Kuhn's story that were mentioned in lecture:
Can you expand on these concerns? Are they legitimate concerns for the Kuhnian picture of history of science? What modifications (if any) would you propose to the Kuhnian picture in order to make it more plausible?
- Is this mob psychology?
- Are theories really incommensurable?
- Are revolutions really so dramatic?