Paradigms and Communities

In Thomas Kuhn’s analysis, new paradigms attract adherents from older alternatives by producing sufficiently unprecedented achievements, but these new paradigms still leave work to be done because of the new problems that they create or the new issues they suggest (Kuhn 10, 17–18, 80). Yet, the community that accepts a given paradigm implicitly judges the problems that the paradigm introduces to be less severe than those that it resolves (Kuhn 23).

Paradigms define specific, scientific communities, and young scientists gain entrance into a mature scientific community by learning to operate within that community’s paradigm (Kuhn 10–11). Conversely, those who refuse to accept a paradigm in ascendancy in a given field may be excluded from that field’s discourse (Kuhn 19, 104). Thus, a paradigm forms its adherents and their work into a relatively cohesive, identifiable tradition of “normal science” within which individuals rarely disagree over their paradigm’s fundamental attributes (Kuhn 11).


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Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn

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