Nariman Moustafa
Progress and the Environment
Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Fall 2014
Reaction Paper
“Kuhn ...
of 1

Nariman Moustafa_Reaction Paper_Progress and the Environment

Published on: Mar 3, 2016
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Transcripts - Nariman Moustafa_Reaction Paper_Progress and the Environment

  • 1. Nariman Moustafa Progress and the Environment Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences Fall 2014 Reaction Paper “Kuhn describes what science tends to be, Popper described what it ought to be” This paper attempts to explore the different accounts presented by Karl Poppers and Thomas Kuhn as to what the scientific methodology is and how its progress occurs. The reactions presented are based on readings from the book: What Is this Thing Called Science? (Chalmers, A.F, What is this Thing Called Science, Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 1999). I disagree with the above mentioned argument motion. This paper argues that in fact both Popper and Kuhn give different but complementary accounts of how science progresses and how new scientific theories and findings have come to shape our world and our understanding of the universe. Indeed, both scientists attempt to explain the progress of the scientific methodology; where Popper focuses more on the formulation and proof of scientific theories through falsifications while Kuhn's emphasis is on explaining a process called the "Paradigm Shift" by which new scientific theories come to be discovered. In the coming lines, I will explain the approach of each of the two scientists then argue on the similarity rather than the difference. Karl Poppers the strongest advocate of "falsification" explains that for a scientific theory to be strong it has to be refutable and falsifiable. Falsification of a theory means that the opposite can be logically true based on the available knowledge, until proven otherwise. This account of falsification demands that theories are stated clearly and precisely. The more a scientific theory withstands tests of falsifications, the stronger it is. Poppers points out that the scientific methodology starts by problems associated with the explanation of the world or some behaviors and aspects of it. Based on these problems, theories or rather hypotheses are speculated freely, after which they are subjected to observation and experimentation to be proven true or false. The inductive account of the scientific methodology explains that scientific theories are derived from facts of observation and falls into the trap of not being able to directly prove them true. Contrary to Inductivism, Popper argues that the falsification methodology rather allows for us to falsify and rule out certain theories in attempt to reach the truth by trial and error where only the fittest theories survive. To prove his idea, Popper gives the example of the progress of Physics from Aristotle's explanation in the 17th century to Newtonian physics in the 19th century until Einstein's discoveries in the 20th . Popper argues that physics is progressing because new theories are accounting for the problems of the previous. Additionally, attempts to falsify theories in place today are sustained and the reason why physics is understood the way it is in our times is only because the current theories haven't been falsified yet. Thomas Kuhn on a similar note agreed with Poppers that scientific theories must be coherent, irrefutable and cohesive. However, he explained scientific progress by introducing the term "Paradigm Shift". Rather than progressing in a linear, cumulative manner, scientific theories (speculations that are proven true, withstand falsification and falsify the ones existing before them) come as a result of a revolutionary moment that compiles different accounts of falsifications within an existing intellectual framework. Kuhn's Paradigm Shifts happen at the level of the discipline or the epistemology as whole, disregarding everything that took place before it while Popper's falsification methodology can account for both major shifts as well as new understandings within a discipline and tweaking of how things happen. In my point of view, the two depicted understandings of scientific methodology and progress took and continue to take place simultaneously. Additionally, they complement rather than contradict each other.

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