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The reason I prefer (my version of ) Lakatos's theory of research
programs [see my previous post to the list] with protected cores in
competition with one another over Kuhn's theory of paradigms  eventually
brought low by anomalies is that Lakatos seems far more true to how
science seems to work in practice. One doesn't jump ship without a new
research program to which to jump, even with abundant anomalies
surrounding the old one, nor do anomalies necessarily play much of a
role in the foundation of new research programs. The perihelion shift of
Mercury was known long before Einstein's General Relativity, which was
not established to explain that result, but rather happened to turn out
to be able to offer an explanation for it after having been invented by
Einstein on entirely different grounds (namely his desire for a theory
exhibiting general covariance).  Likewise, as Kuhn himself makes clear
in his work on Planck, quantum theory also didn't arise because of any
anomaly, but rather as an attempt to explain facts that were simply
beyond the purview of classical theories.

As for Obed Norman's work, while he offers interesting history, I don't
think he understands Kuhn too well. Kuhn is attempting to offer a
descriptive, not a prescriptive theory of science.  What constitutes
"sound science" is defined within a paradigm. Thus it is contrary to the
spirit of Kuhn as I understand him to argue that it was the use of sound
science that refuted racialist science.  It is always possible that
political racism will re-emerge with strength, and if it does so, very
possibly a new racist science could emerge and would seem to its
practitioners to be sound science, refuting  what would then seem to be
the unsound science we have now. We fervently  hope that doesn't happen,
but we unfortunately cannot guard against it by appeals to the soundness
of science alone. (Within a research program , or in the case of a
smaller research program that attempts to appropriate the results of a
larger one, as I think ev psych does vis a vis evolutionary theory, etc.
one may find grounds for arguing the appropriation is not sound, but it
is quite unlikely such refutations by themselves will accomplish much in
the absence of an alternative research program covering somewhat similar
subjects.

Phil Gasper wrote:

>  Obed Norman of Washington State University offers a Kuhnian analysis
> of scientific racism and biological determinism at
> http://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/fac/norman/kuhn.html.   --PG

--
Best,
Michael

Michael H. Goldhaber

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