Thomas Kuhn was critical of the simplistic picture that philosophers had painted of science. Kuhn looked at the history of science and argued that science does not simply progress by stages based upon neutral observations. He agrees that all observation is theory based. Scientists have a worldview or "paradigm". The paradigm of Newton's mechanical universe is very different to the paradigm of Einstein's relativistic universe; each paradigm is an interpretation of the world, rather than an objective explanation.
For Kuhn, the history of science is characterized by revolutions in scientific outlook. Scientists accept the dominant paradigm until anomalies are thrown up. Scientists then begin to question the basis of the paradigm itself, new theories emerge which challenge the dominant paradigm and eventually one of these new theories becomes accepted as the new paradigm.
Role of Observations in Science
Normal science means “research firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements, achievements that some particular scientific community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice” (Kuhn, 1998). These achievements must be sufficiently exceptional to attract an enduring group of supporters away from competing modes of scientific activity and adequately open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve. These achievements can be called paradigms. Students study these paradigms in order to become members of the particular scientific community in which they will later practice.
Change in Paradigm
Because the student largely learns from and is mentored by researchers who learned the bases of their field from the same concrete models there is seldom disagreement over fundamentals. Men whose research is based on shared paradigms are committed to the same rules and standards for scientific practice. A shared commitment to a paradigm ensures that its practitioners engage in the...