Talk:The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

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The Uses of Argument[edit]

Moving here a section removed from the article. A 1958 book cannot criticize a book not published until 1962.

In his 1958 work, The Uses of Argument, Steven Toulmin argued that a more realistic picture of science than that presented in SSR would admit the fact that revisions in science take place much more frequently, and are much less dramatic than can be explained by the model of revolution/normal science. In Toulmin's view, such revisions occur quite often during periods of what Kuhn would call "normal science." In order for Kuhn to explain such revisions in terms of the non-paradigmatic puzzle solutions of normal science, he would need to delineate what is perhaps an implausibly sharp distinction between paradigmatic and non-paradigmatic science.[1] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Drono (talkcontribs) 15:09, 11 September 2008 (UTC)


  1. ^ S. Toulmin, The Uses of Argument. London: Cambridge University Press (1958).

NPOV problems at the start[edit]

The opening of this article "Its publication was a landmark event in the sociology of scientific knowledge," does not conform to NPOV standards in my view. A more neutral and accurate statement would be "Its publication was a landmark event in the sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an enormous and ongoing assessment and reaction in the philosophy community worldwide." The problem with the statement as it stands is that it reads as if it is an attempt to decide the controversial philosophic import of Structure by relegating it to "non-philosophy". Although there is a school of philosophic thought that wants to do this, that wants to minimize the philosophic importance of this work, it is not NPOV to take sides here with that school. The mere fact that Karl Popper held one of the most famous philosophy conferences in history to discuss this work and the resultant collected papers have been through 21 printings, as is noted here, is testimony to the fact that this work participated heavily in the philosophic discussion of the latter half of the 20th century and is a work of philosophic import, even if the realist school of philosophy would like to minimize it. It is not NPOV to take sides in this still hot dispute, rather the text should acknowledge the impact and controversy. Jbutler18 (talk) 14:48, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

How about something that indicates the breadth of Structure's impact: "Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an ongoing worldwide assessment and reaction in — and beyond — those scholarly communities." --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 22:13, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
I think your suggested edit is better than my first draft and solves this problem. Do you mind making the change? I am almost a complete Wikipedia novice and would slightly prefer that someone more engaged with it do so. Jbutler18 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 16:31, 19 November 2010 (UTC).

Draft of New Introduction[edit]

Since a new Introduction has been requested, I have drafted this as a proposed new paragraph two. I know something about this subject but am very new to Wikipedia.

In Structure, Kuhn challenged the prevailing view of progress in science. Scientific progress had been seen primarily as a continuous increase in a set of accepted facts and theories. Structure argued for an episodic model in which, periods of such conceptual continuity, called “Normal Science” were interrupted by periods of Revolutionary Science. During Revolutionary Science a change in deep concepts resulted in a new set of defining problems for the science, the temporary sacrifice of some explanatory power of the old concepts, and, most radically, a process of adoption that, instead of being a rational weighing of the set of solved vs. unsolved problems, was a mix of gestalt shift, practitioner succession, and enthusiasm for new problems. For example, Kuhn’s analysis of the Copernican Revolution emphasizes that, in its beginning, it did not offer more accurate predictions of celestial events, such as planetary positions, than the Ptolemaic system, but instead appealed to some practitioners based on a vague promise of better, simpler, solutions that might be developed at some point in the future. Kuhn’s called the core concepts of an ascendant revolution, its “paradigms” and thereby launched this word into widespread analogical use in the second half of the 20th century. Kuhn’s insistence that paradigm shift was a mélange of sociology, enthusiasm and scientific promise, but not a logically determinate procedure, caused an uproar in reaction to his work. For some commentators it introduced a realistic humanism into the core of science while for others the nobility of science was tarnished by Kuhn's introduction of an irrational element into the heart of its greatest achievements. Jbutler18 (talk) 20:00, 26 November 2010 (UTC)

Jbutler, this is a really solid redo on the intro. Well done! I agree with it and offer three thoughts. 1) We should have the concept of 'anomaly' in this intro... 2nd only to 'paradigm' as a key concept. 2) For the sentence introducing revolutionary science, perhaps we can just combine his ideas into a functional definition for a first time reader. Recommend: "During revolutions in science the discovery of anomalies leads to a whole new paradigm that changes the rules of the game (pg 40, 41, 52, 175), the map directing research (109, 111), asks new questions of old data (139, 159) and moves beyond the puzzle solving of normal science (37, 144)." 3) On the sentence, 'caused an uproar', it may do the work justice to note "which Kuhn addressed in the 1969 postscript to the second edition" (pg 174). --pjm (talk) 03:15, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
Jbutler, SteveM, all else--I have a very minor revision recommendation for sentence three in the intro. We use the phrase "a continuous increase" where Kuhn may have used "development-by-accumulation." I think the word accumulation is important to characterize the prevailing view of scientific progress--one discovery layered onto another. He uses this phrase four times on page 2. Again, a very minor adjustment. I'll wait a while for thoughts. --pjm (talk) 14:21, 19 February 2011 (UTC)
I changed passive voice to active voice... and improved the order of my paradigm-shift-summary sentence.-pjm — Preceding unsigned comment added by Grizanthropy (talkcontribs) 02:39, 2 October 2013 (UTC)


Can this article get another review from the task forces? Looks like a solid article; easily could become a GA with minor modifications. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal06 (talkcontribs) 02:12, 16 April 2017 (UTC)

Feel free to nominate the article for GA - if you like. I wouldn't do that myself. There are too many things I dislike about it, including the way material is organized in the "influence" and "criticisms" sections. To me it feels wrong to divide article content that way. There should be a single section, titled "Reception", that would mention both positive and negative views of the book. The section should be divided into subsections on reviews in scientific journals, popular press reviews, and evaluations in books, with the material within each of those subsections being chronological. That would be the logical approach. Some other approach has been followed here, one that seems didactic - an attempt to convey to the reader what whoever wrote it personally deems the most important information, in the order they find most appropriate. Instead of following that unfortunate approach, the material should simply be organized in a logical way, with no attempt at imposing a particular viewpoint on that material on the reader. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 02:18, 16 April 2017 (UTC)
@FreeKnowledgeCreator:{{sofixit}}  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 04:40, 18 April 2017 (UTC)