A critique of Kuhn's philosophy of science
#1
I came across an interesting article series that critiques Kuhn's works. Links to the articles with short summaries:

Part 1 - Kuhn throws an ashtray at the author because the Errol Morris, the author of the series, makes a good point about Kuhn refusing to acknowledge his point of view. From a comment on the article - "That's the problem with relativism: Who's to say who's right and who's wrong? Somehow I'm not surprised to hear Kuhn was an ashtray-hurler. In the end, what other argument could he make?"

Part 2 - Introduces Kuhn's paradigms and the incommensurability of paradigms. Points out the problem with incommensurability. If a paradigm is incommensurable with respect to another, it needs to be compared with the other paradigm in the first place. But such comparison is not possible because the paradigms are incommensurable. Also, Kuhn's ideas lead to relativism.

Part 3 - Kuhn originally got the idea of incommensurability from mathematics. Irrational numbers are incommensurable with the idea that all numbers can be expressed as ratio of rational numbers. But was the discovery of irrational numbers really a paradigm shift? Was there incommensurability involved? Or is it just a present day re-imagining of what ought to have happened in order to fit into Kuhns idea of incommensurability?

Part 4 - I found this difficult to understand. What I got was - Are there historical truths? Or are there only what we judge and agree to have been true? If the latter, then truth is social construct. That way lies the path to relativism, which can lead to conclusions like - "It suggests that we could agree that the earth is flat and that would make it so."

Part 5 - Quotes from the article:

"There is an objective reality. There is objective truth. And there is objective history. "

"I imagine one of those very bad elementary school arguments. Some kid says that the earth is flat. I say that the earth is an oblate spheroid. We argue. It’s flat. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. Stalemate. We have reached an impasse. Kuhn steps in to adjudicate. He tells us that there is no fact of the matter. You come from different paradigms: the flat earth paradigm and the oblate spheroid paradigm. The name “earth” means something different to each of you, and you can’t compare the meanings. There is no common reference. [...] But wait. What about the earth? There is the earth. There is that physical thing floating out in space. Is it flat, or is it an oblate spheroid? Or if it’s neither, tell me what it is. A tetrahedron? Isn’t it one thing or another? It must be something."
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