Kuhn's Concept of the Paradigm Must Be Critical Research Proposal

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Kuhn's Concept Of The Paradigm, Must Be Critical

Annotated Bibliography

Axelrod, R.H., October 2001, a New Paradigm for Change, Innovative Leader, Vol. 10, No. 10, http://www.winstonbrill.com/bril001/html/article_index/articles/501-550/article538_body.html last accessed on September 15, 2009 -- Richard Axelrod is the president of the Axelrod Group, an organization specialized in offering change consultancy to companies in transition or in need for any other change management assistance. His expertise in the field has materialized in an ability to write a highly noteworthy book entitled Terms of Engagement: Changing the Way We Change Organizations (Berrett-Koehler, 2000). The article cited in this report is a reproduction of several excerpts from the book. The main limitation is that it does not detail on the actual paradigm shift as forwarded and applicable according to Kuhn, but still, he somehow manages to link it to modern day change management. The article is highly useful as it gives a practical application of paradigm evolution through its parallel with organizational change.

Forster, M.R., March 19, 1998, Guide to Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," University of Wisconsin-Madison, Philosophy Department, http://philosophy.wisc.edu/Forster/220/kuhn.htm last accessed on September 15, 2009 -- This source presents the reader with a multitude of benefits. For once, it is retrieved from the website of the department of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, meaning as such that the information is peer reviewed and reliable, as well as it is based on years of research and expertise. Then, its author, Malcolm R Forster, introduces a multitude of direct quotes from Kuhn's book, giving a sense of authenticity and reliability. What can be perceived as a limitation however is the fact that the article makes use of a complex language, meaning that the message sent may at times fail to be best comprehended by the inexperienced reader.

Franklin, J., June 2000, Thomas Kuhn's Irrationalism, the New Criterion, Vol. 18, No. 10, http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/kuhn-franklin-2634 last accessed on September 15, 2009 -- James Franklin's approach is a triple one -- on the one hand, he argues the parallel with humanitarian studies, giving as such Kuhn's theory of paradigms a more practical applicability. Secondly, he assesses the reasons as to which the Structure of Scientific Revolutions was so successful. Finally, the third angle is that of revealing the inconsistencies in the book and the elements of irrational, all which constitute a high point in a critique of Kuhn's work. The article is written in a formal and specialized language, making it as such difficult to be understood by the novice philosopher. Nevertheless, it constitutes a noteworthy lecture.

Kuhn, T.S., 1962, the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd Edition, University of Chicago Press

Kuhn's "Paradigm" & "Normal Science," Weber State University, Department of Physics, http://physics.weber.edu/johnston/mundane/kuhn.htm last accessed on September 15, 2009 -- This article is the result of the collective efforts of the physics professors at the Webber State University. Its benefits include the vast expertise of the authors, combined with the offering of a new practical application of the paradigm theory, in the context of physics. The piece is fairly critical towards Kuhn's findings and the authors support their findings with examples and evidence from physics research.

Thomas Kuhn, Emory University, Division of Educational Studies, http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/Kuhnsnap.html last accessed on September 15, 2009 -- similar to Kuhn's "Paradigm" & "Normal Science," Thomas Kuhn is the result of collective efforts on the part of the professors at the Emory University. The article enjoys the expertise of several theoreticians, who benefit from a critical eye and an ability to assess the available materials. The piece is written in an easy to read style, meaning that it will quickly find readers from various educational backgrounds. Additionally, it is useful as it presents both the critique as well as the arguments defending the initial rationale.

Kuhn's Concept of the Paradigm

Overview of Kuhn's Ideas

Fascinated with the evolution of science, Thomas Samuel Kuhn dedicated his life's work to the study of science's history. He was an innovator in many respects, having been the first to introduce numerous concepts, such as the revolutionary science or paradigm shift. These terms were introduced in 1962, with the printing of his book the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Before launching an actual critical discussion on the science paradigm, it would be advisable to briefly present the main elements in Kuhn's book.

The central element at the core of the book is that science evolves in three stages -- at a first stage, we are unaware of the existence of a paradigm as the developmental level is that of pre-science. Throughout the second stage, the normal science, we become aware of the existence of a central paradigm and we strive to understand and work on it. Finally, in the stage of revolutionary science, the central paradigm suffers numerous mutations, generating as such the paradigm shift. Other noteworthy elements in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions include the following:

novelty, improvement and change are not central focuses at the level of normal science due to our expectations, the vision of the scientist is obscured, which in turn leads to a reduced number of scientific discoveries a paradigm shift cannot occur without a crisis, which crisis is generically understood as an agglomeration of discrepancies at the level of normal science, the theories are not questioned the paradigm shift leads scientists to identify and understand new types of relationships between the data science is non-cumulative as the data and the relationship amongst it change (Forster, 1998)

The evidence used in the formation of this thesis is complex and generally revolves around the observation of data. The final conclusion and impact of Kuhn's findings is that science evolves not in a linear means, but in a cyclic means, where a new discovery, or a paradigm shift, is the result of crisis, or discrepancies in previous paradigms.

Critique of Kuhn's Paradigm

The theory of the paradigm shift has applications in numerous fields, including in today's business community. Relative to this domain, Richard Axelrod (2001) finds that the modern day managers strive too hard to implement change as an ongoing business model, and in this effort, they fail to recognize the merits of their staff members and properly integrate them within the change endeavors, leading as such to internal frustrations as well as lack of ability to generate the initially foreseen results. As a parallel to Kuhn's model, it can be argued that these modern day leaders strive to create paradigm shifts without a basis of discrepancies. In other words, there is no substance of crisis, which in turn means that there is no solid basis for change.

By applying Kuhn's concept to the modern day business environment, managers would have to await crises in order to develop new business models or implement new strategies. The American philosopher argues that only in such circumstances would a new paradigm emerge, and in today's business context, lead to the desired results. One can nevertheless argue the contrary. The contemporaneous business community is extremely dynamic and challenging, forcing organizational leaders to develop and implement new strategies on a constant basis, without the existence of an actual crisis. Managers are advised to identify and satisfy stakeholders' needs even before these become aware of the existence of the new needs. This is the imperative key to success in the highly challenging modern business community. If managers were to listen to Kuhn's model and only develop new courses of action once a crisis emerged, it is highly probable that they would lose their competitive position and as such fail to survive. Finally then, in this era of rapid technological developments and globalization, managers do not afford to wait for a crisis to develop a new paradigm, but must create new paradigms themselves in order to survive.

James Franklin (2000) looks at Kuhn's work from a different angle, and finds that the paradigm theory is the same in science as it is in terms of human interactions: "Kuhn's thesis is that scientific theories are no better than ones in the humanities. The idea that science is all theoretical talk and negotiation, which never really establishes anything, is one that caused trouble long ago for Galileo." Furthermore, Franklin looks at the content of the book and finds several inconsistencies. Probably the most relevant example in this sense is constituted by the classification of several "unsustainable" theories. The author of the article points out that Kuhn did not clarify the understanding of the appellative "unsustainable," nor its context, be it logic or philosophical. Either way, Franklin argues that the use of this adjective in the given context is inappropriate. "If it means that there are a number of observed results that would be unlikely if the theory were true, then one is back in the realm of logic, of the bad old philosophy of science that studied the relation of evidence to hypothesis. Naturally, Kuhn is not keen to emphasize that direction. But if "unsustainable" is a purely psychological matter, a kind of collective disgust by a salon des refuses of younger scientists… [END OF PREVIEW]

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