Difference Between Analytic Philosophy of Science and Thomas Kuhn's Philosophy of Science

Published: 2021-07-16
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Carnegie Mellon University
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There have been a lot of revolutionary debates involving different ideas about what scientific projects are important and what questions need to be answered (The Analytic Project 15). However, I believe that when one of the parties can achieve a strong record of success concerning problems it identifies as critical, then its rivals need to amend the conception of what needs to be accomplished. In this article, we are going to explain the important difference between the analytic philosophy of science and Thomas Kuhns philosophy of science.

Analytic philosophy of science referred to the process of emphasising the logical analyses and arguments (The Analytic Project 15). While Kuhn, on the other hand, suggested that scientist did not employ the rules in reaching their decisions and therefore according to him science was irrational. Despite acknowledging the significance of Kuhns ideas, the philosophical reception was nonetheless hostile (Kuhn). I think Kuhn was correct in recognising that proponents of different paradigms will naturally report their observations in language that carries substantive theoretical presuppositions.

Kuhn proposed an alternative image of science based on the new approach to the history of science. He used psychology and conceptual frameworks to defend the advancement of science through scientist predisposition (Kuhn). Kuhn claimed that although logic was critical in manipulating knowledge and deriving meaning he did not agree with the manner in which the traditional analysis of science made their conclusions. By revealing the limitations of the logical analysis, Kuhn exhibited that logic is important but not enough to justify scientific knowledge. However, according to the analytic philosophy of science, the axiomatizations of physics, motivated by enthusiasm for the recent development of mathematical logic were essential in determining which theoretical assumptions were needed for different purposes (Kuhn). In, my opinion Kuhn wanted to expose the differences between responsible scientific conclusions and the ones with less substantial evidence.

We know that sciences provide understanding by giving explanations, however for analytic philosophy of science the explanation was itself something to be explained. To explain something is to show how it came to about by identifying the causes that produced it (Godfrey-Smith). Many analytical philosophers lead by Hume resisted this idea claiming that their experiences with casual connection never showed them the necessary connection between the cause and the effect. They added that regarding underlying laws of nature, explanation takes its place as a close parallel of other broad aims of science and scientists can predict natural phenomena and to control what happens using interventions with predictable outcomes, all by concluding the underlying laws. Another analytical philosopher Hempel showed how to extend this approach to natural laws to cope with examples of statistical and probabilistic explanations. According to Hull, we could reconstruct the explanation of less basic generalisations from more fundamental principles such as explaining Keplers laws by showing the consequences of the Newtonian gravitational theory (394). Kuhn argued that a more extensive and thorough look at the history of science would reveal challenges and complexities (Kuhn). He suggested that it was hard to understand the revolutionary debates among competing paradigms as occasions in which rationality triumphed. Although he acknowledged the power of the notion of scientific progress, Kuhn argued that it was hard to make sense of cumulative progress across scientific revolutions. Kuhn explained that the traditional position in which Galileo rejected Aristotles physics because of the findings he found in his experiments was a fallacy. He adds that Galileo rejected the Aristotelian as a whole system. Kuhn concludes that Galileos evidence was critical but not enough while the Aristotelian system was still under evaluation together with its logic (Hull 394).

One of the Kuhns main examples is the persistent difficulties faced by medieval astronomers as they struggled with the orbits of the planets. He gives his opinions about other paradigms stating that rival paradigms are incommensurable. Based on Kuhn findings, conceptual of incommensurability arises from the fact that many scientific classifications have presuppositions at odds with those made by rival approaches (Kuhn). The pre-Copernican concept of a planet, for instance, arose from the fact that observations of the heavenly bodies were made from an Earth assumed to be stationary, and it was determined that they exhibit wandering motions. However, after a series of revolutionary debates in the sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries astronomers overcame the mismatch between concepts of the planet by agreeing on the individual heavenly bodies. Although Kuhn uncovered the essential contextual changes across frameworks, the differences did not inevitably produce misunderstandings that would stultify the debate (Hull 394). Analytic philosophy of science sought general accounts of confirmation, theories and explanation partly in the hope of that those accounts would help resolve debates that occur in the fields of natural sciences. Some of the concepts and principles in analytic projects were not useful in tracking particular debates in physics and biology however it has also provided special details especially in the mixture of philosophical analysis which has enabled several philosophers to take on special problems in areas of natural science. Despite other factors, I still believe that analytic philosophy of science was important because it created a path for more piecemeal types of philosophical work (Kuhn).

Kuhn not only raised questions about the rational resolution of revolutionary disputes but also challenged common assumptions about scientific progress. He would pose this question, if Einstein made progress over Newton, and Newton over Aristotle, in what exactly does the progress consist? (Kuhn). Kuhns concerns rested on a line of reasoning that has occurred to many people throughout history. At different places and at different times people have formed very different global conceptions of the world (Godfrey-Smith). For example, there are those people who believe in the Aristotelian theory of the cosmos which explains that natural motions of bodies resulted from their composition out of elements. On the other hand, there are those people who believe that religious traditions resulted in the development of nature. The more penetrating histories of sciences provided by Kuhn indicates that the appearance that scientists in different contexts be it chemistry, biology or physics face common examination is merely superficial. According to Kuhn, the origin of scientific discipline begins with the identification of a natural phenomenon (Kuhn). He argued that there was no simpler way to define a paradigms features exhaustively. Therefore, he explained that paradigms enable scientists to ignore concerns over a disciplines fundamentals but rather concentrate on solving its puzzles. He gives an example of how Newtonian mechanics enabled physicists to measure and explain precisely the clockwork exactitude and the motion of both celestial and terrestrial bodies. In fact, Newtonian paradigm allowed physicists to evaluate the potential movement of the heavenly bodies; it equipped them with the skills to explain and manipulate natural phenomena. He also adds that paradigms guides scientists determine soluble puzzles and prevents them from tackling difficult ones. Kuhns view was that we judge the quality of theory by comparing it to the paradigmatic theory (Kuhn). However, he also advises that would be straightforward since the standards of evaluation are themselves subject to change. Kuhn gives an example where he compares Einsteins theory and Newtons theory to determine the conventional conception of the transition from classical to relativistic physics. He explains that what we have is a generalisation event whereby Newtons theory is a special case of Einsteins theory. He adds that we can safely conclude that the later approach is closer to the truth than the older theory (Kuhn). Therefore, we notice that Kuhn was right this is because theories permit the deduction of observational sentences; however theoretical statements cannot be reduced to observable sentences.

It will be fair to conclude that Kuhns work has been largely influential both within and philosophy and outside it. Nonetheless, it was met with wide criticism among philosophers. Some of them even argue that his account of the development of science was not entirely accurate. I believe some of this criticism has since been muted as more philosophers get to understand Kuhns work better. However, by making a revisionary change an essential condition for revolutionary science, Kuhn fails to acknowledge important developments and discoveries that are broadly regarded as revolutionary. An example is a revolution in the molecular biology and the discovery of the structure of The DNA. Kuhns perspective was that revolutions and discoveries came about only as a result of the appearance of anomalies. In general, I think the minimal notion of progress regarding inferential success and increasing predictive might solve Kuhns worries since ordinary considerations provide grounds for thinking that our successes are based on accurate representations of an independent world.

Works Cited

Godfrey-Smith, Peter. "Theory and Reality." (2003): n. pag. Web.

Hull, David L., Carl Hempel, Thomas S. Kuhn, and Dudley Shapere. "Philosophy of Natural Science." Systematic Zoology 24.3 (1975): 394. Web.

Kuhn, Thomas S. "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." (1996): n. pag. Web.

Chapter 2: The Analytic Project.

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