According to Kuhn, what is wrong with Popper’s account of the scientific method? Is Kuhn’s criticism successful?
I will begin by looking at how Popper defines his scientific method in relation to knowledge then, I will consider Kuhn's criticism of this view and whether or not it is substantive. Popper is concerned with how knowledge is acquired and developed. He distinguishes off from belief and works with a series of conjectures and refutations to build hypothesis about our acquisition of knowledge. Kuhn on the other hand focuses on two key ideas 'normal science' ( C. Chimisso, chapter 4, knowledge, p 140) and scientific revolutions. Very different approaches and Kuhn is critical of Popper in terms of his theory sitting within normal science and so not contributing towards the development of knowledge and learning. Below I will look at these different approaches and the grounds for Kuhn's criticism and whether it is successful or not.
Popper is concerned with deductive processes in terms of scientific knowledge and that we can apply regularities to that which we observe( C. Chimisso, chapter 4, knowledge, p 113). For Popper the creative instance when we have a go at seeing regularities around us and form hypothesis as to how nature works. Along with these we will have expectations of what we have on mind( C. Chimisso, chapter 4, knowledge, p112). This is for him the start of knowledge( ref). However, at this point these conjectures could be true or false and the next step is to work out which they are. This is the start of building up a process of scientific knowledge. For Popper it is in working with the process of conjectures( hypothesis), and the corroboration or refutation of these that begins to provide the tests he sets to establish scientific knowledge. From observations we can draw up a conjecture which is then the basis of an argument and from this we can deduce the consequences of it. So for example:- Premise. All cats are tabby. Purely conjecture it could be true or false
Conclusion My cat is tabby True by my observation
Possible 1. My neighbour has a
Outcomes. Black cat , so my conclusion is false. My premise is false and my Conjecture is refuted. This is down to the fact that true premises Can't have false conclusions
2. The cats in my house are tabby. My conclusions are true. My Hypothesis has been corroborated. It is not confirmed though as valid Deductive arguments can have false premises and true consequences (ref)
Deductive reasoning using conjectures and refutations can only prove that a premise is false, but it can never prove it true. This is a crucial aspect of Poppers view of scientific knowledge and the two key concepts underpinning it. The first is that of refutation and the second is that of never being able to certain of any theory. In terms of refutation of hypothesis, Popper's view was that " the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability...." (Popper as cited in Cottingham(ed), p455). It is the very fact of a theory being refutable that is central to his views and it has to be accompanied by a critical attitude. Having this attitude leads us towards the second key concept of never knowing for certain the truth of any theory. If this is not present then dogmatic thinking is paramount and people then tend to hold on to seeing regularities everywhere, holding onto them, in the face of discrepancies and makes us focus on verifying our expectations and hypothesis, rather than using testing them to refute them, even falsify them. It is only by so doing that we are willing to change them. It is essential that the latter is paramount in the field of scientific knowledge( Cottingham ( ed) p457) . For Poppet scientists need To have a...
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