Nov 20, 2009

Chitra's response to Philosophy of Science Assignment


By definition in sociology, a community is an organized group of people holding same values. This explains why a ‘scientific community’ requires a set of beliefs to exist. This set of beliefs is actually the postulates. But the problem is that they are received- which clearly refers to tacit knowledge and not inductive reasoning. The process of formation of a scientific community comes in with a pre-exiting set of beliefs that are true to the ongoing ideas of science. Thus is the term ‘trade’ used to signify give and take within that sphere.

The first offshoot of the assumption is agreeable as the time factor comes in. The student class of a community will be ‘in education’ when professionals are practicing their trade. As long as they belong to the students class- 1. They have to abide by their job of studying science i.e. what the current set of laws sees to be right. 2.They have to remain a student i.e. the completion of having all knowledge about the set of beliefs makes them professional and unacceptance towards community’s laws outcasts them. A student is under an impression that he s learning science and not a version of it. Absence of any counterevidence to the set of beliefs will further aggravate it. In the end the student’s mind will follow the given rationality and that will be the license for scientific practice.

The second point is about the nature of education. The rigor and rigidity actually comes from the limitations of a set of beliefs and limits imposed upon the physical and mental experimentation a student applies in the learning process.

This set of beliefs form a paradigm. Kuhn gives the concept of paradigm in science which ca be explained as- 1. Outcome of a set of postulates give science a famous notion. 2. In Kuhn’s words paradigm comes from a great work. 3. This gives a sense of sufficiency and completeness which is not necessarily true but remains unquestioned in the reign of the paradigm.


Normal science is a science that follows a norm of routine work in experimentation within a paradigm. This is more than normative as the need of a norm in science puts an end to questioning of the postulates which is the basis for that science. Restriction on introduction of thought that might violate this norm is the reason why the community gives the world a false impression that they know what the world is like. They actually explain world they way they see it, which in itself is not enough to know the truth about how the world actually is.

Scientists being temperamental about their assumption being true in all cases of science and more than that sufficiently occupying all the areas of science, is a result of absence of counterevidence [which obscurely continues from their studenthood] or wanton discarding of that counterevidence.


Here comes the point when the scientific community chooses to overlook facts which shake the foundation of normal science. Once such a blasphemous evidence which falsifies the postulates of normal science is accepted, that will be the end of that science. Thus it is suppressed; but after the suppression the science part of the concept of ‘normal science’ is at threat.


Research- as the word suggests is a repeated search. Nothing wrong with repetition of the act of searching but following a prescribed search route devaluates its productivity. In science the sense of what is implied by this word should be an organized, extensive and objective process executed by an open mind. Kuhn has described the clash of the etymological basis and entailed meaning of the word research. It is strenuous as it demanding because of the licensing system in a normal science and also tiring in the other implication of the same word. This tiring factor and devoted efforts are closely related. No matter what outcome does a scientist’s mind provides, oppression of the undesirable factors is a requirement to remain a scientist. Thus forcing nature i.e. explaining how the world works and creating versions of truth is the solution to it. That is where the ‘conceptual boxes’ come into the picture. They are rigid definitions of concepts which do have limitations at their ends but a large capacity to fit in the modified inferences. This is highly professional for a scientist in normal science as this is what his education system taught him; it makes him the saviour for the norm.


Here we consider cases where normal science dies away- because of the high potency of the counterevidence or an external pressure on the scientific community which demeans its norms. These are scientific revolutions as Kuhn describes them. They liberate the shackled ‘fundamental novelties’. In the earlier assumption Kuhn uses the word fundamental as the largely observed facts and go against the older principles.

Thus the need for a new set of beliefs comes in. The newly taken evidence modifies or replaces the postulates that make a paradigm. The resistance continues until new science strengthens itself to explain truth, explains the older problems or cases in science as well and reaches far and wide to call for acceptance.

The shift described is a step of rationality. It puts an end to subjectivity and makes science a concept that can be derived from reality all over. The qualitative transformation refers to the experimentation by open-minded scientific practitioners that has lesser limitations. This is not completely different from the quantitative enrichment as science has to be that way. All the theories sanctioned by science should be scientific in the right sense and all that comes to be evidence naturally cannot be ignored by science.