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Honors Thesis Archive

Author Ronald J. Ross
Title Let There Be Light: An Argument for the Possibility of Paradigm Change through Debate
Department Philosophy
Advisors Nancy McHugh, Don Reed, and Ty Buckman
Year 2009
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (188 KB)
Abstract In 1962 Thomas Kuhn argued that scientific revolutions occur through paradigm change. That is, the model for the way we understand the world is completely replaced by a new incompatible model. He also claimed that these revolutions are non-cumulative, and thus there is actual incommensurability between the paradigms. However, by stating the process of revolution in such an exaggerated manner in order to highlight the non-cumulative nature of paradigm change, Kuhn precludes the possibility of revolution through debate. I argue that a close examination of the works of Francis Bacon as well as a scrutiny of Galileo and Priestley reveal genuine areas of rationally adjudicable, commensurable agreement. Furthermore, I posit a process, based on the ideas of Willard Von Orman Quine, whereby we might actually affect revolution, in whole or in part, through the process of debate.

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