AN EVALUATION OF THOMAS KUHN’S CONCEPT OF PARADIGM SHIFT IN SCIENCE

AN EVALUATION OF THOMAS KUHN’S CONCEPT OF PARADIGM SHIFT IN SCIENCE

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to expose and evaluate Thomas Kuhn’s concept of paradigm shift in science with a view to showing that scientific progress is not achieved by appealing to traditional methods of doing science only. Scholars who uphold the traditional idea of science like Rudolf Carnap, are of the view that scientific innovations must exist within a tradition. They forgot that science can also be driven by moral, political and religious beliefs which according to Harding takes social science, not physics as its foundation. For the new paradigm, there is no single, universal, all-embracing method that explains science. Kuhn was a supporter of this view and so posited his idea of paradigm shift where he said that there are two poles to scientific discovery: stasis (tradition) and episodic change (innovation). According to Kuhn, the struggle for eminence between these two poles generates tension or crisis in which scientists practise. A science in crisis is unstable if the central theory and paradigm which it is part are in serious doubt. Then the paradigm will no longer be a suitable vehicle for guiding scientific research. At this stage, a new paradigm is needed, one not beset in the same way by serious and intractable anomalies. During a crises period, the usual conservative structures relax somewhat, and truly innovative ideas and practices may emerge as serious alternatives. The repeated failure of established normal scientists to handle the crisis situation, together with the emergence of a promising new approach may trigger a revolution or paradigm shift.   These achievements not withstanding, Kuhn failed to reconcile the duo of tradition and innovation. To achieve this reconciliation, this study made use of qualitative research design. Data were got from books, journals and the Internet. Data collected were subjected to conceptual analyses and philosophical hermeneutics (interpretation). From the analyses and interpretation, this study argues that for any society to make progress in science, the duo of tradition and innovation must be consulted.