Is the idea of paradigms usefu

Length: 14 Pages 3494 Words

Forty years ago Thomas Kuhn's book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), was published. Few books create such a profound impression, especially in their authors' lifetimes. It is difficult now to think of an academic discipline, whether in the natural or in the social sciences, that has not been touched by it from history and philosophy to sociology and theology (Hollinger, 1973). Some of its concepts and insights - the notion of a 'paradigm' for example, or the contrast between 'normal' and "revolutionary" science - have passed into the language of academic discourse, and now colour and shape the way in which scholars think and talk about their specialisms (Perry, 1977). Although such discussions among each of the fields are interesting in their own right, the debate amongst the sociologist is of principal concern here. There have been numerous attempts to employ Kuhn’s scheme of scientific structure to analyse the development of sociology and the hope here is to distinguish how useful - in light of some of these attempts - Kuhn’s ideas are here. Before describing and investigating Kuhn’s conception of paradigmatic science, it would be helpful to briefly set the scene in a wider context by looking at pre-p Continue...


Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. This he termed a disciplinary matrix. (Blau, 1960) The social definitions paradigm concentrates on the analysis of social action, with a tendency to be interested in gaining insight and verstehen of action and interaction of agents within society who is dynamic and creative. As has hopefully been outlined above, a paradigm refers to that thing which allows scientists to go through the process of solving the puzzles they continually generate. It does not make sense to ask whether a social construction is true or false. As mentioned, Kuhn rejects the classical Baconian scientific method. These philosophers while not in complete agreement, did hold one common ground, in that they were old rationalists (Pannenberg, 1973); that their central task was to indicate what scientific rationality consisted of and describe how scientists ought to make inferences from evidence or to choose between competing hypothesis. In this final stage exemplars provide standards by which we may judge whether a proposed puzzle - solution is any good. Application of these principles to the history of science led Kuhn to an interpretation radically at odds with the writings of his time. Harper and Row, New York Kuhn, T. As Nickles states of Sadi Carnot for example; "We should relate his concept of heat to the usage conventionally employed in the texts to which we know he had access.