Philosophy of Science
Professor: Dr. Herman C.D.G. de Regt
By: V. V. Budiman
Word count: 1264
Disciplines, or the so-called rules in determining what science is and what is not has made it difficult for economics to be considered as science. But how reliable are the rules in determining what is science and what is not? If one is forced to use verifiability or falsifiability, then one can conclude that International Business Administration (IBA) is indeed not science. On the other hand, the theories proposed by Thomas Kuhn, which was more of a historian of science than a philosopher of science, can oppose the criteria that considered economics as a non-science. In this essay, the philosophy of Kuhn will be discussed further, including the extent on how his theories fit to the world of IBA, as well as an illustration from the business field in relation to the theory.
Kuhn believed that history is indeed very important in understanding science. He claimed that in order to understand science, one has to look into the history of science. He also had a theory, which was written in the book of Structure of Scientific Revolutions, called the Paradigm Shift. Paradigm is a sum of accepted metaphysical assumptions, theories, methodologies, manuals and techniques. In Kuhn’s theory there are three periods of science, which are Normal science, Crisis and Scientific Revolution. Normal science is the continuation of pre-scientific era that formed many opinions, but had no consensus or general agreement about how one should do to gather information regarding a phenomenon, and no generally accepted background information. After a general agreement on how a phenomenon is reached, then the Normal science period begin. In this period, scientists will try to solve the paradigm that was not finished or had minor problems. When the scientists can’t deal with too many anomalies, the situation goes into Crisis period. To solve the crisis, people could either accept the current paradigm and be satisfied with some anomalies that have been solved leaving some unsolved, or find a new solution or paradigm; this period is called the Scientific Revolution. In this last period, scientists leave the old paradigm and accept the new paradigm, leaving the old paradigm unreliable and unused. After there is a new paradigm, there is Incommensurability, which has a meaning of “to have no measure in common”. It also states that the two paradigms are incomparable where there is nothing in common in between.
An illustration of Kuhn’s Paradigm Shift in the world of IBA can be seen through the different paradigms in the airline industry across two different eras. The airline industry has been going through many changes in business focus in producing airplanes. From the year of 1970 until now, the airline industry has had different focus on airline performance criterion, such as flight hour, travel distance, passenger capacity and fuel efficiency. The first era is the year 1970s, where in that year, a French and British company worked together to create the fastest commercial airplane in the world, namely the Concorde. Its travel distance is approximately 4,500 miles, consuming an average of 2,900 gallons of fuel per hour, and could carry up 120 passengers. The second era is the year 2000s, where an American company called Boeing produces the 777-300ER, where production began in 2004. The travel distance of this airplane is around 7,900 miles, consuming an average of 2,300 gallons of fuel per hour, and could carry up to 365 passengers.
These airplanes represent two different eras with two contrasting paradigms. Concorde was very inefficient because it consumed a lot of fuel, could only carry a relatively few passengers, and does not have a great travel range. The reasons behind the creation of Concorde are: first, people were trying to travel with the minimum time possible. Second, fuel at that time was not as expensive as...
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