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Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms 
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Post Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
by Thomas S. Kuhn


Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms



Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:48 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
Would you say that scientific "truth" is achieved by rebels that work outside the current paradigm?


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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
Ant, first define "scientific truth.



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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
Chris OConnor wrote:
Ant, first define "scientific truth.


Excellent question.
With science constantly mopping up and refining past truths, it is hard to pin truth down.

We are limited in our understanding of nature because we are subjective creatures.


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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
ant wrote:
Would you say that scientific "truth" is achieved by rebels that work outside the current paradigm?


This is a very good question. My view is that truth is objective, and there are enormous quantities of truth discovered through normal science. All facts are true.

However, truth also functions as a metaphysical concept, signifying the entire worldview or paradigm within which we operate, embedding the universal assumptions that allow us to find and value particular facts. While correct facts are objectively true, they are also embedded in a subjective framework of values whose presuppositions are often difficult to test, until contradictions emerge within the established approaches.

The role of rebels against science is hard to assess. Most rebels are cranks, with a pet theory that has some obvious flaw. Rebelling against general relativity or evolution just gets you consigned to the outer darkness.

Answering ant's question requires definition of the parameters of the current paradigm. It may be that the limitations of scientific method are as much philosophical as empirical, within the realm of value, with people assessing some questions as important and others as useless. The current required paradigm shift could well be more about values than about facts.


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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
Quote:
This is a very good question. My view is that truth is objective, and there are enormous quantities of truth discovered through normal science. All facts are true.


Robert, will you join in this discussion? We always have fun conversations.

I don't see truth as objective. I see truth as a characteristic of information. Even when a fact is an exact(truthful) abstraction of something objective, there is still the compression of information. It's the nature of abstraction that the abstraction cannot be identical to it's objective source, else it would be considered a duplication. Formed from matter, rather than encoded in neurons or on some other medium. Truthfulness would concern not only how accurately an abstraction describes it's objective source, but also how little information is lost in the abstraction process.

Saying that the "Earth rotates around the Sun" is factually true, but missing a great deal of necessary information that we supply unconsciously in order to understand the fact.

Quote:
The current required paradigm shift could well be more about values than about facts.


I think so too. Will it ever be possible to translate values into some format that can be encoded, discussed, and compared in an empirical manner? I think much of our language is tainted with subjectivity and hazy, generalized abstraction. Values suffer from this problem. We can speak of the same thing through the lens of game theory, but a lot of work must be done. There must still be an axiomatic foundation, such as the sanctity of human life. Since that is the modus operandi of our evolution, the crossover from subjective, value based dialogue to empirical, game theory based dialogue would mesh well.


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Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:28 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
Quote:
Ant:
Would you say that scientific "truth" is achieved by rebels that work outside the current paradigm?


i think there's a lot that needs to be defined in this question.

Scientific truth sounds a bit dogmatic. There are certainly true statements. Facts are true, as in they need to be verifiable regardless of what you are trying to say the fact implies.

The atomic weight of an element is a fact, and you could also say a "scientific truth" that i think fits the bill.

The reason i dance around labeling anything Truth, despite insurmountable evidence of the truth of it, is that there is always room for improvement. The phenomena is what it is. That is unlikely to change. Gravity has always been gravity. It is our understanding of it which changes. Our understanding gets closer to The Truth, but being limited, temporary beings, our understanding will likely never be the equal of it.

Labeling some understanding or conceptual framework as The Truth is intellectually stagnating. We must always understand that there is MORE out there for us to understand.

A question i have is what do you mean by rebels outside the current paradigm?

If you mean, do people who challenge a theory have any hope of achieving results, then absolutely yes. That is the only way we ever GET progress. Check the theory and see if it holds to the experiment.

Quote:
Richard Reynman:
“It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong”


That means that if your hypothesis is off, then it's off. Experiment proves it. When you see that your hypothesis doesn't match up to experimental data, its the data which disproves the hypothesis, and not the other way around. In that way it is always those who challenge the theory who advance science, because that's how you expand your knowledge of the world beyond what we already know.

If outside the current paradigm means something like non-experimental, non-empirical guess work. Then no.


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Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:09 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
johnson1010 wrote:
Quote:
Richard Reynman:
“It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong”


That means that if your hypothesis is off, then it's off. Experiment proves it. When you see that your hypothesis doesn't match up to experimental data, its the data which disproves the hypothesis, and not the other way around. In that way it is always those who challenge the theory who advance science, because that's how you expand your knowledge of the world beyond what we already know.


Except it's not that simple, is it? That's part of Kuhn's argument, I think (knowing his basic ideas only second-hand).

In my superficial understanding of the philosophy of science, I remembered some arguments from Quine (and Duhem):

Quote:
the claim that theories or hypotheses can only be subjected to empirical testing in groups or collections, never in isolation...

Duhem argues, that there cannot be any such thing as a “crucial experiment”: a single experiment whose outcome is predicted differently by two competing theories and which therefore serves to definitively confirm one and refute the other.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scien ... rmination/


Of course you might say Feynman never had such a "crucial experiment" in mind, but I think the point is that falsification is not as clear-cut as many think.



Last edited by Dexter on Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:00 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
It's true.

It is the mass of data that does the trick, not outliers.

A good example, i think, is our new friend the FTL neutrino. That was a shocking bit of news. But the one instance is not enough for us to go overboard on the new ultimate cosmic speed limit.

We need confirmation, and vetting, and peer review experimentation.

I think what i wrote was more akin to trying to treat light as only waves, or only particles.

Either aproach gets you a bit onto the right path, but the more acurate answer seems to be a blend of the two. And that's not completely nailed down either, and that is the problem with thinking of "scientific Truth"s.

Our understanding of gravity from Newton worked in any instance that really mattered in our day to day lives. But there was a clarification to be had with Einstein, and he hasn't quite got everything strait either, even though the layman will never know the difference.


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Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?


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Post Re: Chapter 5 - The Priority of Paradigms
johnson1010 wrote:
It's true.

A good example, i think, is our new friend the FTL neutrino. That was a shocking bit of news. But the one instance is not enough for us to go overboard on the new ultimate cosmic speed limit.

We need confirmation, and vetting, and peer review experimentation.



But, I have to admit, I am rooting for the FTL neutrino. If he survives the investigation then it will be okay that the bullet fired on the speed-of-light train gets to the other side of the car no matter where the observer is.


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