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Who was Thomas Kuhn?

Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996) became world famous for his idea that scientific progress requires new ways of looking at the world. He was educated at Harvard and taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began as a physicist and then studied the history and philosophy of science. While teaching a course on physics to humanities students, he realized that Aristotle's (384-322 B.C.E.) physics were not as wrong as commonly assumed, but rather made sense in their own intellectual context.

His first book, The Copernican Revolution (1957), explained the intellectual transition from Aristotelian geocentricism to the heliocentric theory. But it was Kuhn's second book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) that reverberated throughout intellectual communities, because he showed how science proceeds by quantum leaps when new theories overthrow old theories. After Kuhn became very famous and attended a conference on his work, where everyone used his term "paradigm" almost as loosely as they do today, he is reported to have told someone, "I am not a Kuhnian."

What was Thomas Kuhn's paradigm theory?

Although Kuhn himself noted that he used the word "paradigm" in at least 23 different ways in the first edition of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), the core meaning is that a paradigm defines and prescribes how research is conducted in a science, and it also presents a picture of the world as studied by that science.

During normal science, all practitioners are expected to work within the reigning paradigm of their field and extend accepted theories to new circumstances. There is widespread agreement on one coherent world view in a mature science. In immature sciences, competing schools of thought have followers who defend the paradigm of the viewpoint they subscribe to. Paradigms are not absolutely true for all time and can be literally overthrown by the adoption of new paradigms.

What is a scientific revolution according to Thomas Kuhn?

A scientific revolution, said Kuhn (1922-1996), is preceded by a time of crisis in which the leading paradigm is no longer able to guide investigation and produce new discoveries in the field. A competing paradigm arises that is able to both explain the data accounted for in the old paradigm and explain new data.

Eventually, the new paradigm wins, because its adherents get control of the field in question. Along with their victory comes the authority to rewrite the textbooks so that the entire history of the science can be viewed as leading up to the new paradigm. Most of the practitioners of the old paradigm do not change their minds, but literally leave the field, either through retirement or death. The new paradigm then establishes a new era of normal science that persists until the next revolution.

Who was Imre Lakatos?

Imre Lakatos' (1922-1974) main contribution to the philosophy of science was to reconcile the work of Karl Popper (1902-1994) and Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996). He was born Imre Avrum Lipschitz to a Jewish family in Debrecen, Hungary. His mother and grandmother were killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Lakatos (which would be written "Lakotos Imre" in Hungarian) studied mathematics, physics, and philosophy at the University of Debrecen, changing his name to Imre Molnar to save himself from the Nazis.

He was a communist during World War II and took the name "Lakatos" as a tribute to the Hungarian general and prime minister Geza Lakatos. He studied at Moscow

Who was Geza Lakatos?

Geza Lakatos de Csfkszentsimon (1890-1967) was a Hungarian general during World War II, as well as prime minister of Hungary from August to October of 1944. In August 1944, Lakatos and Miklos Horthy overthrew the German government of Hungary with one tank. While in power, they prevented the deportation of Jews. The Germans retaliated by kidnapping Horthy's son. Horthy surrendered and Lakatos stepped down. When the war was over, Lakatos immigrated to Australia. Imre adopted Lakatos' name because he found his personal courage in the service of freedom very inspirational.

State University, but then was imprisoned for "revisionism" from 1950 to 1953 for ideas that reinterpreted Marxist doctrine in a way that Marxist authorities considered to be undermining to their official views. He then fled Hungary after the 1956 Soviet invasion. Lakatos earned his doctorate at Cambridge University in 1961 and lectured at the London School of Economics.

Lakatos' major works include Proofs and Refutations (1976), which is based on his doctoral dissertation, The Methodology of Scientific Research Programs: Philosophical Papers Volume 1, and Mathematics, Science and Epistemology: Philosophical Papers Volume 2 (1978).

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