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Thread: Paradigm: A Criterion for Choosing Problems

  1. #1 Paradigm: A Criterion for Choosing Problems 
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    Paradigm: A Criterion for Choosing Problems

    I graduated in 1959 as an electronics engineer. I had been taught how to use math to solve engineering problems. I was taught how to do math but never taught what math and science was really about. After reading Thomas Kuhn’s book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” several years ago I began to understand the ways of math and the ways of solving problems in the natural sciences.

    Normal science is a puzzle-solving enterprise. Normal science is a slow accumulation of knowledge by a methodical step-by-step process undertaken by a group of scientists.

    “One of the things a scientific community acquires with a paradigm is a criterion for choosing problems that, while the paradigm is taken for granted, can be assumed to have solutions…A paradigm can, for that matter, even insulate the community from those socially important problems that are not reducible to the puzzle form, because they cannot be stated in terms of the conceptual and instrumental tools the paradigm supplies.”

    The author notes that all “real science is normally a habit-governed, puzzle-solving activity” and not a philosophical activity. Paradigm and not hypothesis is the active meaning for the ‘new image of science’. Paradigm is neither a theory nor a metaphysical viewpoint.

    Kuhn’s new image of science—the paradigm—is an artifact (a human achievement), a way of seeing, and is a set of scientific problem solving habits. Normal science means research based upon one or more past achievements ‘that some particular community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice…and these achievements are sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group pf adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity’ furthermore they are sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to solve’. Such achievements Kuhn defines as paradigm.

    “A puzzle-solving paradigm, unlike a puzzle-solving hypothetico-deductive system, has also got to be a concrete ‘way of seeing’.”

    Kuhn constantly refers to the ‘gestalt switch’ when discussing the switch in reference from one paradigm to another as ‘re-seeing’ action. Each paradigm has been constructed to be a ‘way-of-seeing’. Here Kuhn is speaking not about what the paradigm is but how the paradigm is used. He is defining a paradigm as a newly developed puzzle-solving artifact that is used analogically to understand another artifact; for example, using wire and beads strung together to facilitate understanding the protein molecule.

    I think that we place “Science” on too high a pedestal and thereby distort our comprehension of political and social problems. We cannot solve social and political problems like we solve the questions formed by the normal sciences.

    Do you think that we place Science on too high a pedestal?


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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    science is good at solving scientific problems - political and social problems require a political and social solution
    science may be of assistance in bringing these solutions about, but a solution needs to match the nature of the problem to be effective


    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    science is good at solving scientific problems - political and social problems require a political and social solution
    science may be of assistance in bringing these solutions about, but a solution needs to match the nature of the problem to be effective
    Could we come up with a definition of the word "science" that is acceptable to most of us?

    I think that we have the common meaning of the word "science", which is equivalent to either "physics", "natural science", or to "technology".

    I think of that "science" means a domain of knowledge that meets some ridged standards of methodology and seeks to establish principles that can serve as stepping stones for reaching further into a depth of understanding about that domain of knowledge.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i see science as any activity of gathering, investigating and evaluating knowledge that follows the scientific method of hypothesis, proposed consequences and testable predictions
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    testable predictions
    a lot of what i consider scientific work is not testable however does this mean it is not science?

    we can produce theories on what is inside a black hole but it is not testable by any methods we have today. however i would still consider theoretical astrophysics a sceince
    everything is mathematical.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    it still makes predictions, and if they are currently not testable, good predictions inherently imply that there is a fair chance that at some point in the future evidence will emergethat agrees or contradicts the predictions

    as for black holes, the fact that this field of physics has been very fruitful in creating a whole new area at the edge of physics, still exploratory at the moment, but full of potential for confirmation or refutation
    can you hand on heart say that attempts to explain the workings of black holes have not led to a random offshoot that has proved useful elsewhere ? that in itself is an indication of the power of the scientific method
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    i see science as any activity of gathering, investigating and evaluating knowledge that follows the scientific method of hypothesis, proposed consequences and testable predictions
    I think that we must then define "testable" in a fashion that does not mean measuring with some kind of physical standard such as ruler or clock or weighing scale. Of couse we get into a circular argument when we define "science" as something that uses the "scientific method".
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    i see science as any activity of gathering, investigating and evaluating knowledge that follows the scientific method of hypothesis, proposed consequences and testable predictions
    I think that we must then define "testable" in a fashion that does not mean measuring with some kind of physical standard such as ruler or clock or weighing scale. Of couse we get into a circular argument when we define "science" as something that uses the "scientific method".
    no you don't : the set of hypothesis, proposed consequences and testable predictions (as in deciding whether is true or false, not necessarily physical testing) IS the scientific method - no circularity here at all
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    science is good at solving scientific problems - political and social problems require a political and social solution
    science may be of assistance in bringing these solutions about, but a solution needs to match the nature of the problem to be effective
    Could we come up with a definition of the word "science" that is acceptable to most of us?
    .

    That is correct according to me. Science is some process that responds to problem. Be it problem of sociological or human problems. You cannot see science as ust closed to such meanings as physics or biology. Perthaps it is politicians that are scientists solving sociological and political problems.
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