Kuhn's Theory of Theories

959 Words4 Pages
Without theories, scientists’ experiments would yield no significance to the world. Theories are the core of the scientific community; therefore figuring out how to determine which theory prevails amongst the rest is an imperative matter. Kuhn was one of the many bold scientists to attempt to bring forth an explanation for why one theory is accepted over another, as well as the process of how this occurs, known as the Scientific Revolution. Kuhn chooses to refer to a theory as a ‘paradigm’, which encompasses a wide range of definitions such as “a way of doing science in a specific field”, “claims about the world”, “methods of fathering/analyzing data”, “habits of scientific thought and action”, and “a way of seeing the world and interacting with it” (Smith, pg.76). However in this case, we’ll narrow paradigm to have a similar definition to that of a ‘theory’, which is a system of ideas used to explain something; it can also be deemed a model for the scientific community to follow. Kuhn’s explanation of a Scientific Revolution brings to light one major problem—the problem of incommensurability.
Before explaining what the problem of incommensurability is, we need to see how the scientific revolution works according to Kuhn. Initially there is a paradigm that is followed by scientists who use it to solve puzzles in the scientific community. However, once scientists can no longer solve multiple puzzles (anomalies) by using that paradigm, the scientific community enters what is known as a crisis. The crisis phase is when the scientific community is in limbo because there is no new paradigm to replace the old one. After multiple paradigms are created in attempts to finding the best one to solve the puzzles that the old one could not,...

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... a theory should be able to explain a wide variety of things, not just only what it was intended to explain.
4. Simplicity: a theory should be simple in it’s explanation and should bring order to phenomena which would not exist or be taken into consideration without the theory; in other words, it should be the basis of the phenomena.
5. Fruitful” a theory should stimulate new research findings, meaning it should disclose new phenomena or discover relationships between phenomena.
While Kuhn’s 5 characteristics do help give direction to the process of determining which paradigm is to take over the old, it also comes with many potential problems. One major problem is that scientists may still reach different conclusions by using the same criterion because of different interpretations of the criterion. They may also hold certain criterion as more important than others.
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