Chomsky, Popper, et al

Michael Pollak mpollak at
Sun Apr 2 15:25:48 PDT 2000

On Sun, 2 Apr 2000 JKSCHW at wrote:

> These things are matters of degree. After all, there are big revolutions
> (premodern Aristotlean science to the "scientific revolution") and little
> ones, like the transition from classical mechanics to relativity. There are
> fields whose paradigms are or or less dominant. I don't know about
> linguistics, but economics is very consensual for a social science. Various
> subdisciplines in polisci are highly consensual, for example International
> relations, more so than sociology or anthropology. --jks

Fair enough. Can we agree that Kuhn's model doesn't apply to the less consensual fields? I think it is precisely those fields in which the term paradigm is most popular. That's why I think his popularity in the social sciences and humanities is largely based on willful misreading. The phrase most often heard is "competing paradigms," which is a reductio ad absurdam, since if they are competing, neither of them is a paradigm -- i.e., neither can be associated with normal science. (Kuhn could have made this clearer. But I think it's inescapable from the logic of his argument.)


__________________________________________________________________________ Michael Pollak................New York City..............mpollak at

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