Someone recently bought our

students are currently browsing our notes.


Curd Cover On Kuhn Notes

PPE Notes > The Philosophy of Science and Social Science Notes

This is an extract of our Curd Cover On Kuhn document, which we sell as part of our The Philosophy of Science and Social Science Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our The Philosophy of Science and Social Science Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Philosophy of Science - The Central Issues Six Kuhnian Arguments for Relativism
* Theory-ladenness of observation
* What scientists observe depends upon the theories they accept
# is this the fallacy of equivocation? The object observed is not equivalent to X's beliefs about it (but surely Kuhn isn't claiming this: the object is the same, but what is seen, and the relations it is placed in, are different, hence they see different things)
* No proponent of a scientific theory can ever observe anything contrary to that theory
# patently a poor reading of Kuhn; anomalies
* Meaning-variance
* In order for this thesis to support Kuhn's denial of rationality and progress, it would have to entail that scientists committed to different paradigms speak different languages
* Insofar as comparisons between theories involve logically valid arguments, meanings must be fixed throughout. If Newtonian mechanics can be derived from Einstein's mechanics, then meaning must be fixed. Kuhn rejects this
* Is it contradictory to claim that rival paradigms are incommensurable yet it is impossible to believe both at the same time? If they mean different things...
* Problem weighting
* Theories should be assessed not by their empirical or observational consequences, but by seeing how good they are at solving problems
* Fitting theories to agree with observation is easy, if you don't care what the theory looks like
* Thus problem solving is the unit of scientific achievement
* But no paradigm can solve all problems, so we are left to choose which puzzles are most important to solve
* Shifting standards
* Paradigms include standards for assessing theories, and these vary
# e.g. novel predictions, unified explanations
* The ambiguity of shared standards
* The standards we do agree upon may be open to interpretation e.g. simplicity, consistency
* The collective inconsistency of rules
* Accepted standards may conflict McMullin's Criticisms of Kuhn
* Post Structure, Kuhn seems to have moderated his relativism
* paradigm debate can be rational insofar as it is based on shared values
* Yet he still claims that no objective notion of progress can be applied across revolutionary divides
* it is impossible to show that the values that act as a criteria are connected in any necessary way with truth or verisimilitude
* Shared values
* Kuhn allows that revolutions can shake all of science e.g. Newton, or else a small backwater e.g. X-rays
* For the less consequential revolutions, maybe shared values are unaffected, but surely big revolutions involve debates about standards
* Kuhn rejects the idea that science has a fixed essence, or set of necessary and sufficient conditions to distinguish it from other disciplines, identifying it instead as Wittgenstein

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our The Philosophy of Science and Social Science Notes.