Beyond Kuhn: Methodological Contextualism and Partial Paradigms

In Moti Mizrahi (ed.), The Kuhnian Image of Science: Time for a Decisive Transformation? London: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 191-208 (2018)
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Kuhn’s view of science is as follows. Science involves two key phases: normal and extraordinary. In normal science, disciplinary matrices (DMs) are large and pervasive. DMs involve “beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given community” (Kuhn 1996, 175). “And so on” is regrettably vague, but Kuhn (1977, 1996) mentions three other key elements: symbolic generalizations (such as F=dp/dt), models (such as Bohr’s atomic model), and exemplars. These components of DMs overlap somewhat. For instance, symbolic generalizations may feature in techniques and beliefs, and models may exhibit values. To be a (genuine) scientist, in the normal science phase, is to puzzle solve within the boundaries of the DM. It is to buy into the ruling dogma (Kuhn 1963) and to accept that “failure to achieve a solution discredits only the scientist ... ‘It is a poor carpenter who blames his tools’” (Kuhn 1996, 80). Puzzle solving involves a wide variety of activities, including

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Darrell P. Rowbottom
Lingnan University


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