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What Is a Paradigm Shift?

Changes That Occur During a Paradigm Shift

Thomas Kuhn argues that reality cannot be described independently of the conceptual schemes through which we observe it. Paradigm theories explain our conceptual systems.

When a paradigm shift occurs, the theoretical opinions of scientists working in the field changes.

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What Is a Paradigm Shift?

What Is a Paradigm Shift?

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-paradigm-shift-2670671

thoughtco.com

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Key Ideas

Paradigm Theory

A Paradigm theory is a general theory that provides a broad theoretical framework or "conceptual scheme." It offers underlying assumptions, key concepts, and methodology to scientists working in a particular field. It gives their research its general direction and goals.

Examples of paradigm theories include Copernicus' heliocentric astronomy (with the sun at the center), Isaac Newton's theory of gravity, Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, germ theory in medicine, gene theory in biology.

When A Paradigm Shifts

A paradigm shift occurs when one paradigm theory is replaced by another:

  • Ptolemy's astronomy giving way to Copernican astronomy.
  • Newtonian physics (time and space are the same everywhere for everyone) replaced by Einsteinian physics. (time and space are relative to the observer's frame of reference.)

Thomas Kuhn and Why Paradigms Shift

The term "paradigm shift" was coined by the American philosopher Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996). He argued that science couldn't advance until most people working within a field agree upon a paradigm. Before the agreement, collaboration and teamwork are restricted.

Once a paradigm theory is established, those working within it can start doing normal science. But now and then, normal science reveals anomalies that can't be explained within the dominant paradigm. When the inexplicable results start piling up, it eventually leads to a "crisis."

Changes That Occur During a Paradigm Shift

Thomas Kuhn argues that reality cannot be described independently of the conceptual schemes through which we observe it. Paradigm theories explain our conceptual systems.

When a paradigm shift occurs, the theoretical opinions of scientists working in the field changes.

Critics of Thomas Kuhn

Kuhn's claim related to paradigm shifts is very controversial.

His critics argue that this "non-realist" approach leads to a sort of relativism, and concludes that scientific progress has nothing to do with getting closer to the truth. Kuhn states he still believes in scientific progress since later theories are usually better than earlier theories.

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A paradigm shift
A paradigm shift

To define a paradigm shift, we should first look at a definition for a paradigm.

A paradigm is defined as a pattern that may be copied, or a group of ideas about how someth...

History of the paradigm shift

Psychologist Jean Piaget saw children's development as a series of separate stages marked by periods of adjustments. Inspired partly by Piaget, Thomas Kuhn - a physicist, philosopher, and historian of science -proposed two kinds of scientific change:

  • Incremental developments in the course of "normal science."
  • Scientific revolutions that accentuate the more stable phases.

He proposed that scientific revolutions are not a matter of incremental progress; they involve "paradigm shifts."

Various distinct senses

The term paradigm can be used in many distinct senses. For example:

  • A paradigm could refer to a special kind of achievement that draws an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity, but is open enough to leave all sorts of problems for the new group to solve.
  • Paradigms can be used to offer general epistemological viewpoints, like a broad sweep of reality, when it "determines large areas of experience at the same time."

What Thomas Kuhn meant originally by paradigm has, over time, assumed an expansive set of meanings, sufficiently open-ended to allow other possibilities to be explored.

Artificial Intelligence: Singularity and Virtual Immortality
Artificial Intelligence: Singularity and Virtual Immortality

The growth of technology and Artificial Intelligence(AI) is on track to provide us with:

  • Singularity: A merging of human intelligence and AI, resulting in Superstro...
Inner Awareness and AI

... or self-awareness is something many scientists and philosophers are discussing. The fact that there is consciousness inside us, is a big problem for those developing AI, as no matter what they do, and how technologically superior the product is, nobody can explain or even fathom the juggernaut of consciousness.

Qualia: Experiencing Sensations

Qualia relates to the raw sensations of experience, like colours, smells, sounds.

It is through our actual experience that we know what something tastes, looks or smells like, and it is not some information already drilled inside our brains on birth. We have to experience sensations to understand them.

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The scientific revolution

Human history is often framed as a series of episodes, representing sudden bursts of knowledge. The Agricultural Revolution, the Renaissance, and the Industrial Revolution are a few examples where ...

Pseudo-Science 

Much of the knowledge about the natural world during the middle ages dates back to the teachings of the Greeks and Romans. Many did not question these ideas, despite the many flaws.

  • Aristotle taught everything beneath the moon was comprised of four elements: earth, air, water, and fire.
  • Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy thought that heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon, planets and various stars all revolved around the earth in perfect circles.
  • The ancient Greeks and Romans held to the idea that illnesses were the result of an imbalance of four basic substances and was related to the theory of the four elements.
Rebirth and Reformation
  • During the Renaissance, there was a renewed interest in the arts and literature. It led to a shift toward more independent thinking.
  • In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther promoted his thoughts by printing and distributing them, encouraging churchgoers to read the Bible for themselves. This led to the Protestant Reformation.
  • In the process, the criticism and reform led to placing the burden of proof ahead in understanding the natural world, paving the way for the scientific revolution.

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