Published in 1962, Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is reputed to be “the most influential book on the nature of science in the second half of the 20th century—and arguably, the entire 20th century” (Fuller, 2004, p. 12). Why? Because a young, forty year old Kuhn challenged the rigors of what was thought to be a waxing body of scientific theory-on-theory. Kuhn challenged that science does not simply expose its veracity to humanity, growing by the accretion of bits of theory; rather, some “robust” older theories are drastically changed–if not abandoned–for new theories. Kuhn’s science is not exposed to humanity; it is interpreted by humanity, and in so doing, competing paradigms fall subject to the hands of human idiosyncrasy. For Kuhn, fields of productive normal science or paradigms (these he considers to be epistemological commitments held by a group of scientists) dismiss contradictive anomalies as error, until these anomalies accumulate to the point where a new paradigm must be considered. “That is, the profession can no longer evade anomalies that subvert the existing tradition of scientific practice—then begin the extraordinary investigations that lead the profession at last to a new set of commitments, a new basis for the practice of science” (Kuhn, 1962, 1970, p. 6). The shift from one robust paradigm to another is labeled by Kuhn as a scientific revolution.
Kuhn’s Scientific Revolution