Normal science and paradigm shifts. Keeping our sociological imagination engaged, this week we think about scientific research as more than an accumulation of facts over time but rather as shaped by time, place, and, of course, people.

by | Sep 6, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Week 2: Normal science and paradigm shifts. Keeping our sociological imagination engaged, this week we think about scientific research as more than an accumulation of facts over time but rather as shaped by time, place, and, of course, people. In many ways, this week we get philosophical about what knowledge is, how it changes, and what we designate as science or not. Epistemology is that branch of philosophy concerned with “the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.” Epistemology has to do with what we decide is true, to be fact, and even what we consider knowledge in and of itself. It seeks to answer how do we know? And, epistemological assumptions are deployed in any science, method, or discipline because they underpin and are woven into every question we ask, the data we collect, and the conclusions we come to. The way we know via science is empirical, meaning it uses the five senses we acknowledge as legitimate – smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing.
Many people rightly interpret Thomas Kuhn’s work in terms of the practice of science, how science is normalized, and how science changes. One of things that could be explored more is the way(s) in which scientists and their practice of science are circumscribed by larger social forces. Thus, not only are scientists and their activities shaping science (Kuhn), but society is shaping scientists.



Please Answer
What is a “normal science” and a “paradigm” to Thomas Kuhn, and why are they so darn important to science? How is scientific knowledge “passed down” through generations of scientists? And, finally, how might social, political, and economic forces of one time or another influence what is studied and passed on?

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