The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions



TheStructure of Scientific Revolutions

TheStructure of Scientific Revolutions

Question1: The Relationship between Normal Science and Paradigm

According to Kuhn, ‘normal science’ refers to research thatrelies upon other existing scientific achievements (Kuhn, 1970).These scientific achievements are regarded as major sources offurther research. Therefore, normal science expounds on theachievements by exploring and researching on various dimensions ofthe already accepted theory. The findings from these research effortsare seen in the science textbooks. In these textbooks, successfulapplications are illustrated and compared to other works. Someclassic works of science served to demonstrate difficulties andmethods concerning a certain field of research.

The success ofthe aforementioned classic works depended solely on twocharacteristics according to Kuhn. The achievements wererevolutionary and thus attracted many advocates from competing modesof scientific activity. These achievements also created unlimitedsorts of problems to be resolved by the then larger group ofadvocates. Therefore, according to Kuhn, a paradigm is an achievementthat shares these two characteristics. These paradigms imply thatsome forms of scientific applications including law, theory,application, and instrumentation, all provide a basis for furtherresearch work[CITATION Kuh70 p 10 l 1033 ].

Through thestudy of these paradigms, a future scientist is thus able tospecialize in a particular scientific field and carry out theirresearch from there. The new researcher joins a contingent ofexperienced scientists in his new field. Therefore, just like them,the new researcher commits to the same rules and standards ofresearch. The commitment and conferment to the new field areessential in normal science. Consequently, from the abovedescriptions of ‘paradigm’ and ‘normal science’, arelationship can be drawn. The study and adherence to certainparadigms leads to research that seeks to expound on the principlescontained in the paradigm. This research as mentioned at the onset isnormal science.

Question2: Role of paradigms in fact gathering

Just like a judicial decision that has beenaccepted in the common law, a paradigm can refer to an object forfurther expression and specification under new and more rigorousconditions (Kuhn, 1970, p. 23). Normal scientific research isoriented in the expression of entities and theories that a paradigmalready provides. The paradigm forces scientists to analyse a part ofnature in a rather very detailed format.

Advantagesof having paradigms

By employing facts that the paradigm has shown tobe peculiarly informative in problem solving, they become deservingin determining with more accuracy and in a larger assortment ofsituations. If a paradigm assures scientists that the facts they seekare of great significance, they are likely to go to great lengths todo the research (Kuhn, 1970, p. 25).

The theory presented by the paradigm is used inthe design of apparatus to be used in solving the problems at hand(Kuhn, 1970, p. 27). Once a phenomenon had been established, furtherexperiments in that area are paradigm dependent.

Disadvantagesof not having paradigms

A part of the normal theoretical work consists ofthe use of already existing theory to predict intimate value. Thisneed arises from the difficulties that come up when establishingpoints of contacts between theory and nature (Kuhn, 1970, p. 27).

Another disadvantage is the difficulty there is inmatching facts with theory. A good example is the Newton’s lawswhich, although produced a great amount of literature, it hadapplication problems (Kuhn, 1970, p. 32).

The articulation of theory depletion is yetanother problem. These problems are more dominant in intervals whenscientific advancement is qualitatively prevailing. They tend to aimat clarification by explication (Kuhn, 1970, p. 33).

The use of paradigms has both strengths andweakness. The strengths of using paradigms lie in the steps takenfrom creating a research problem to getting a solution. Theweaknesses, however, lie in the paradigmatic limitations, which arecreated by the assumptions involved. Even so, the strengths seeminglyoutweigh the weakness leading to its extensive usage.

Question5: Characteristics of Scientific Discoveries that Involve ParadigmChanges

Thesecharacteristics include “the previous awareness of anomaly, aprogressive and simultaneous emergence of both observational andconceptual recognition, and the consequent change of paradigmcategories and procedures which are often accompanied by resistance”[CITATION Kuh70 p 62 l 1033 ]. Interestingly, in the illustrationsthat are used to illustrate these characteristics, are alsodetermined by how individuals perceive matters. With established andactive paradigms, only the expected and normal are observed even ininstances where anomalies exist. However, with continued exposure,the anomalies can be unearthed through an acknowledgement of thefact, or when there is a significant deviation from the expected.This awareness prompts a gradual adjustment of the concepts until theanomaly becomes the expected (Kuhn, 1970, p. 64).

Thecharacteristics are best illustrated by three examples. The firstexample involves the discovery of oxygen. Three scientistslegitimately claim to have discovered the gas. C. W. Scheele was thefirst claimant to have discovered the gas in the early 1770s but hisclaim came short because by the time the discovery had been announcedin different parts of the world, he was yet to publish his work.Joseph Priestley was the next claimant and his works between 1774-5that helped the third claimant, Lavoisier, to stake his claim.Lavoisier’s work is of particular interest because he focused onthe anomalies that were missed by Priestley.

Another example is the discovery of X-rays by Roentgen. Thisdiscovery is regarded as accidental when Roentgen discovered that abarium platino-cyanide screen at some distance from his shieldedapparatus glowed during discharge from his cathode ray tube. Thethird example is the discovery of the Leyden jar, which was madeagainst the nonexistence of a paradigm for electrical research.

A contrast thatis manifest in the paradigm change between the discovery of oxygenand X-rays is that the discovery of X-rays warranted a completechange in both procedures and expectations in a branch of sciencethat already existed. This discovery also opened up a lot moreopportunities to explore hence, added potential to normal science.The discovery of oxygen, on the other hand, only led to theparadigmatic change of instrumentation used in the discovery.


Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scietific revolutions. International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, 2(2), 1-210.