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Essay Philosophy of Science
For the course: Philosophy of Science (30J205)
In the logical positivistic sense it is often mentioned that the field of economics is not scientific . Whenever one would try to refute this bold statement they often invoke the mentality of Thomas Kuhn. Although Kuhn passed away in 1996, his mentality is as contemporary as it was when it was first launched back in the nineties. Surely, his mentality had to withstand points of critique in the times to come, but as it turned out, his mentality proved to withstand this critique and be highly influential in the following decades. In this essay I will assess Thomas Kuhn’s philosophy of science and I will try to find an answer to the question: “To what extent does Kuhn’s view fit International Business Administration (IBA) as a systematic study of the economic world?”1. I will discuss Kuhn’s view in detail and illustrate the results with a clear economic case. We will discuss the ‘paradigm shift’ view and consequently apply it on the mentioned question above.
Thomas Samuel Kuhn made several important contributions to the understanding of the progress of knowledge. The most important and revolutionary at the time was his concept of the so called paradigm shifts. This view implied that there is no improvement in the gaining of knowledge, merely a shift in the perspective on reality (i.e. paradigm shift). It says that one always operates in a framework (paradigm) to approach any form of science. The paradigm shifts enable scientists to approach a given concept from an entire new perspective of which they could have never considered the validity before the paradigm shift. This view of Kuhn is so revolutionary because it does not deal with the demarcation criterion that proved to be an obstacle for philosophers prior to Kuhn. The demarcation problem in the philosophy of science is a problem in which it is unclear where to draw the proverbial lines between science and non-science. This was an important problem in the philosophy of science because after the scientific revolution people claimed that science was the only truth. But as it turned out it was unclear what ‘science’ exactly encompassed. Kuhn’s view did not create a different criterion of demarcation but came with a different strategy . Immanuel Kant played a very important role for Kuhn, to such an extent that Kuhn’s theories were influenced by Kant’s concepts. The main difference that Kuhn opposed was the fact that paradigms in fact can change, whereas Kant claimed that his so called ‘categories’ cannot .
Whenever the paradigm shifts are being analyzed, it will become clear that these occur in stages (according to Kuhn). There is a clear distinction between the so called ‘pre-scientific period’ followed by the ‘normal science’ which subsequently is being followed by a ‘crisis’ which can lead to a ‘scientific revolution’ and a paradigm shift in which one would return to the ‘normal science’ stage. After they returned to the normal science stage the cycle repeats itself.
In the pre-scientific period there is the stage in which ‘there are as many opinions as there are people, there is no consensus about the way one ought to proceed to gather information about a specific domain of phenomena, and here is no generally accepted background of assumptions’ . Whenever this stage is being followed by a period of normal science (for that discipline), there will be some consensus that in generally accepted about that specific discipline. People strive to expend the paradigm, get rid of mistakes and minor problems (so called anomalies). It is important to note that scientists take an uncritical stance in times of normal science. When the accumulated amount of anomalies have reached a certain point at which the trustworthiness of the paradigm is eroded, it will usually mean the start of a new period called abnormal...