Ritið 3/16

Ritið 3/16 - 2016

Stefán Snævarr: Paradigms and Science. On Thomas Kuhn

The main theories of Thomas Kuhn are discussed and interpreted in this article, both the theories that he put forth in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions and those that he entertained later in life. The main focus is on his concepts of paradigms and incommensurability. His relations to Wittgenstein’s thought is emphasized. Paradigms can be understood as scientific language games. The concept of paradigms can be regarded as a family concept. Further, Kuhn’s conception of practice as the foundation of science is similar to Wittgenstein’s idea of practice as the foundation of language and meaning. Some space is devoted to Donald Davidson’s criticism of the idea of incommensurability, parts of it are endorsed, while Davidson is criticized for going too far in his rejection of incommensurability. The idea of moderate incommensurability is tenable. The author introduces his idea of scientific horizons, an idea inspired by Hans-Georg Gadamer. The author also expresses agreement with those who maintain that informed judgement is essential to scientific practices. 
Keywords: Kuhn, paradigms, normal science, incommensurability, scientific horizons
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