Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge by Imre & MUSGRACE, Alan Ed LAKATOS

By Imre & MUSGRACE, Alan Ed LAKATOS

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T here are instrumental as well as theoretical expectations, and they have often played a decisive role in scientific development. One such expectation is, for example, part of the story of oxygen’s belated discovery. U sing a standard test for “ the goodness o f air” , both Priestley and Lavoisier m ixed two volumes o f their gas with one volume of nitric oxide, shook the mixture over water, and measured the volume o f the gaseous residue. T h e previous experience from which this standard procedure had evolved assured them that with atmospheric air the residue would be one volume and that for any other gas (or for polluted air) it would be greater.

KARL P O P P E R N O R M A L S C I E N C E AND I T S DA NG E R S of science were ‘normal’ scientists in Kuhn’s sense. In other words, I disagree with Kuhn both about some historical facts, and about what is characteristic for science. Take as an example Charles Darwin before the publication of The Origin of Species. Even after this publication he was what might be des­ cribed as a ‘reluctant revolutionary’, to use Professor Pearce Williams’s beautiful description of Max Planck; before it he was hardly a revolution­ ary at all.

He researches into the real history, and broods; he reads scientific teaching textbooks, and wonders. An investigation into the originality of Kuhn, then, is also an investigation into the crude forms and early stages of a science. And this is, above all, what makes his work attractive to scientists in new fields; pre-eminently, of course, to scientists in the social sciences, and in experimental psychology. One of the reasons why professional philosophy of science at present looks aethereal tq actual research scientists, is that modern philosophers of science, taken as a group, have worked backwards.

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