Kuhn vs Popper on Philosophy of Science
Popper’s and Kuhn’s stance on the philosophy of science conflicts, especially in the progression of science. The positions taken by the two philosophers have brought differences among the thinkers on which is the right approach to employ in the advancement of science (Uhlmann, 2017). Popper advocates for high standards that are characterized by the scientific objectivity. He argues that scientists should constantly disprove their work; this would ensure increased research and as a result progress science further. According to Popper, any scientific theory should be a subject of disproval. Therefore, if a scientific theory has not yet been disapproved, it is evident that no extra research has been undertaken to explore more of the phenomenon or it meets the adequate contributions from the scientific community (George, 2016). On the other hand, Kuhn research on the science of theory holds that science (normal science) operates within defined paradigms and assumptions that are used as provided but not subjected to testing. According to Kuhn, scientists advance their work based on the common assumptions, and as a result, they strongly resist any attempts that may question the central paradigm (Fuller, 2013). The different positions taken by Popper and Kuhn leads this paper to explore the major differences exhibited by the two philosophers on approaches to science. Besides, the paper will investigate how their positions can be expressed in the study of political science.As exhibited above, Popper noted that scientific theory is built on the hypothesis. Therefore, any scientific concept should be subjected to destruction through testing. Popper went further to argue that any scientific evidence that does not meet the thresholds of the hypothesis should be rejected (George, 2016). In the same light, the author tries to depict that no research hypothesis that can be said to be proven. On the other side, Kuhn uses a different approach to explain how scientific theories are created. In his argument, Kuhn used “normal science” concept to illustrate that scientists’ work is based on several topics that rely on core paradigm or assumption (Fuller, 2013). Contrarily to the Popper’s argument Kuhn views any scientific work that deviates from the central paradigm as the wrong one. According to Kuhn, a work that lacks the central paradigm traits is wrong because of the errors coming for the researcher, but not the findings that have been agreed upon by the consensus view. However, the Kuhn’s argument on the consensus view can be destructed because it is arrived at by the scientists who may be influenced by human prejudices and opinions (Marletta, 2013). Therefore, for the scientists who want to investigate competing scientific ideas, they should use Popper’s approach to science. Popper argues that a scientific method should comprise of observations, explaining observations, experimenting the explanations, analyzing the experiment results and making a conclusion.
Peirce argued that a pragmatic conception of truth is a limit whereby empirical investigation on the scientific facts is agreed upon through consensus (Fuller, 2013). Peirce goes ahead to point out that a truth which is arrived at through consensus should mark the end of scientific research. Therefore, in regards to Peirce position, it is true that Kuhn’s approaches to science are correct. Besides, Popper agreed with Peirce’s statement but argued that the truth can be arrived at through a vague process that is meant to satisfy the desires of the scientists. Instead, Popper advocates for the progress of science through the elimination of the false theories (Marletta, 2013). Additionally, Popper’s point of view agrees with Peirce’s research because of those who propose for the elimination of the false theories they later have their suggested theories removed through the consensus agreement. However, as much as Pierce argument strives to merge the two sides, there is a critical difference that makes one approach superior to the other. Kuhn argue that the progression of science is a subject of two main paradigms, ‘within’ and ‘between’. The major difference between two philosophers’ approaches is that both of the Kuhn’s paradigms are local. As Popper suggests, a scientist must exhibit how scientific community has contributed to his work as this is the only scientific way to arrive at the truth. Kuhn’s approach on how paradigms transits from one to another do not provide an identifiable prediction on which side is the most interesting.
Despite the differences between Popper’s and Kuhn’s approaches to science, the work of the two philosophers has had strong implications for the study of political science. Popper’s approaches to science help in the progression of the political science whereby the studies are conducted by observation and experimentation of data. With the observance of the Popper’s approaches, political science theories and experiments will be verified through repeated proofs to facilitate the conclusion of general laws that comprise of contributions from the scientific community. The Popper’s falsifying theory guides the political scientists to advance political sciences through disputation of the existing political science theories (Uhlmann, 2017). As Popper noted, studies cannot be verified by verifying their facts. Additionally, Popper’s approach to science helps the political scientists to come up with the political theories meant to solve political problems. Popper provides the political scientists with the platform whereby they can develop the political studies universal point of view rather than particular one.
Just like Popper, Kuhn’s work can be expressed in the study of political science. For example, Kuhn’s premises can help the political scientists to establish a starting point for the formulation of political theories. Secondly, Kuhn guides the political scientists to consider other factors such as cultural values, customs, and habits apart from the contribution made by political communities in the creation of scientific theories. Fourth, the naturalized study of political science that is expressed through the naturalistic and conventionalist study of science. Finally, Kuhn work guides the scientist through the central paradigm that provides the ideal methodology that governs the scientists in the study of the political science.
One of the Popper’s argument is that a scientific theory should be built in the theory that possesses contribution from the scientific community. Similarly, the current political parties in the U.S, Democrat and Republican are built on two key ideologies, Liberal and Conservative respectively. The traits exhibited by the political parties cannot be falsified because they agree with ideologies that are as the result of the contribution by the scientific community. Alternatively, the current American political parties can be perceived to have developed from Kuhn’s approach to science stance. Both the major political parties address voters’ issues differently and have unique values. However, the two parties shared the core ideology (Kuhn’s central paradigm) through sharing liberal and conservative aspects at a certain degree.
Kuhn’s paradigm shift is well replicated in the contemporary torn international relationship between North Korea and the U.S. This relationship can be explained by Realism theory. In the premise of Realism, the three U.S administrations have termed the North Korea nuclear accumulation as a threat to international peace. On the other side, the North Korean government has viewed the attempt by the U.S a threat to its power, and as a result, it has continued to shift its defensive strategies depending on the U.S administration of the day. The U.S government has been employing different approaches with the key objective (core paradigm) of counteracting power whereas North Korean as devised different mechanism to defend (core paradigm) itself from the U.S. Kuhn noted that just like scientific revolution, the political revolution entails breaking from the past, but with the observance of the major political theme.
Kuhn’s approaches to science have been very impactful on the contemporary political changes, especially in the Arab Spring countries. Kuhn argued that scientific revolutions happen because some communities feel more superior to the others. In the current political environment in certain Arab countries, the governments prioritize their interests instead of that of the citizens. As a result, a number of political revolutions have been happening in different Arab countries. These political changes and revolutions have been caused by what Kuhn calls the revolutionary science that calls for shifting from the normal existing assumptions to the new paradigm.Popper advocates for the falsification of the existing scientific theories in order to aid the development of science. On the other hand, Kuhn argues that scientific theories are based on one core paradigm which all other studies should agree with. Kuhn goes ahead to point out that any study deviating from the core paradigm should be rejected. However, the Kuhn’s approach to science has been greatly criticized for holding on the consensus view as the only option to agree with a particular study. Therefore, Popper’s approach has been voted as the best. The scientific approaches by the two scientists are expressed in the study of political science by providing several guidelines that can govern political scientists in their studies.