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'''''Paradigm shift''''', sometimes known as '''extraordinary science''' or '''revolutionary science''', is the term first used by [[Thomas Samuel Kuhn|Thomas Kuhn]] in his influential [[1962]] book ''[[The Structure of Scientific Revolutions]]'' to describe
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a change in basic assumptions within the ruling [[theory]] of [[science]]. It is in contrast to his idea of [[normal science]].
   
'''''Paradigm shift''''' is the term first used by [[Thomas Samuel Kuhn|Thomas Kuhn]] in his famous 1962 book ''[[The Structure of Scientific Revolutions]]'' to describe
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It has since become widely applied to many other realms of human experience as well even though Kuhn himself restricted the use of the term to the hard sciences. According to Kuhn, "A paradigm is what members of a scientific community, and they alone, share.” (The Essential Tension, 1997). Unlike a normal scientist, Kuhn held, “a student in the humanities has constantly before him a number of competing and incommensurable solutions to these problems, solutions that he must ultimately examine for himself.” (''The Structure of Scientific Revolutions''). A scientist, however, once a paradigm shift is complete, is not allowed the luxury, for example, of positing the possibility that [[Miasma theory of disease|miasma]] causes the flu or that [[Aether (classical element)|ether]] carries light in the same way that a critic in the Humanities can choose to adopt a 19th century theory of poetics, for instance, or select Marxism as an explanation of economic behaviour. Thus, paradigms, in the sense that Kuhn used them, do not exist in Humanities or social sciences. Nonetheless, the term has been adopted since the 1960s and applied in non-scientific contexts.
the process and result of a change in basic assumptions within the ruling [[theory]]
 
of [[science]]. [[Don Tapscott]] was the first to use the term to describe information technology and business in his book of the same title. It has since become widely applied to many other realms of human experience as well.
 
   
==Kuhnian Paradigm Shifts==
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==Kuhnian paradigm shifts==
 
[[Image:Duck-Rabbit illusion.jpg|right|200px|thumb|Kuhn used the duck-rabbit [[optical illusion]] to demonstrate the way in which a paradigm shift could cause one to see the same information in an entirely different way.]]
 
[[Image:Duck-Rabbit illusion.jpg|right|200px|thumb|Kuhn used the duck-rabbit [[optical illusion]] to demonstrate the way in which a paradigm shift could cause one to see the same information in an entirely different way.]]
   
 
An [[epistemology|epistemological]] '''paradigm shift''' was called a [[scientific revolution]] by epistemologist and [[history of science|historian of science]] [[Thomas Kuhn]] in his book ''[[The Structure of Scientific Revolutions]]''.
 
An [[epistemology|epistemological]] '''paradigm shift''' was called a [[scientific revolution]] by epistemologist and [[history of science|historian of science]] [[Thomas Kuhn]] in his book ''[[The Structure of Scientific Revolutions]]''.
   
A scientific revolution occurs, according to Kuhn, when scientists encounter anomalies which cannot be explained by the universally accepted [[paradigm]] within which scientific progress has thereto been made. The paradigm, in Kuhn's view, is not simply the current theory, but the entire [[worldview]] in which it exists, and all of the implications which come with it. There are anomalies for all paradigms, Kuhn maintained, that are brushed away as acceptable levels of error, or simply ignored and not dealt with (a principal argument Kuhn uses to reject [[Karl Popper]]'s model of [[falsifiability]] as the key force involved in scientific change). Rather, according to Kuhn, anomalies have various levels of significance to the practitioners of science at the time. To put it in the context of early 20th century physics, some scientists found the problems with calculating Mercury's [[perihelion]] more troubling than the [[Michelson-Morley experiment]] results -- and some, the other way around. Kuhn's model of scientific change differs here, and in many places, from that of the [[logical positivists]] in that it puts an enhanced emphasis on the individual humans involved as scientists, rather than abstracting science into a purely logical or philosophical venture.
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A scientific revolution occurs, according to Kuhn, when scientists encounter anomalies which cannot be explained by the universally accepted [[paradigm]] within which scientific progress has thereto been made. The paradigm, in Kuhn's view, is not simply the current theory, but the entire [[worldview]] in which it exists, and all of the implications which come with it. There are anomalies for all paradigms, Kuhn maintained, that are brushed away as acceptable levels of error, or simply ignored and not dealt with (a principal argument Kuhn uses to reject [[Karl Popper]]'s model of [[falsifiability]] as the key force involved in scientific change). Rather, according to Kuhn, anomalies have various levels of significance to the practitioners of science at the time. To put it in the context of early 20th century physics, some scientists found the problems with calculating Mercury's [[perihelion]] more troubling than the [[Michelson-Morley experiment]] results, and some the other way around. Kuhn's model of scientific change differs here, and in many places, from that of the [[logical positivists]] in that it puts an enhanced emphasis on the individual humans involved as scientists, rather than abstracting science into a purely logical or philosophical venture.
{{PhilPsy}}
 
When enough significant anomalies have accrued against a current paradigm, the scientific discipline is thrown into a state of ''crisis,'' according to Kuhn. During this crisis, new ideas, perhaps ones previously discarded, are tried. Eventually a ''new'' paradigm is formed, which gains its own new followers, and an intellectual "battle" takes place between the followers of the new paradigm and the hold-outs of the old paradigm. Again, for early 20th century physics, the transition between the [[James Clerk Maxwell|Maxwellian electromagnetic worldview]] and the [[Albert Einstein|Einsteinian]] [[theory of relativity|Relativistic]] worldview was not instantaneous nor calm, and instead involved a protracted set of "attacks," both with empirical data as well as rhetorical or philosophical arguments, by both sides, with the Einsteinian theory winning out in the long-run. Again, the weighing of evidence and importance of new data was fit through the human sieve: some scientists found the simplicity of Einstein's equations to be most compelling, while some found them more complicated than the notion of Maxwell's aether which they banished. Some found [[Arthur Eddington|Eddington's]] photographs of light bending around the sun to be compelling, some questioned their accuracy and meaning. Sometimes the convincing force is just time itself and the human toll it takes, Kuhn pointed out, using a quote from [[Max Planck]]: "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
 
 
After a given discipline has changed from one paradigm to another, this is called, in Kuhn's terminology, a ''scientific revolution'' or a ''paradigm shift''. It is often this final conclusion -- the result of the long process -- that is meant when the term ''paradigm shift'' is used colloquially: simply the (often radical) change of worldview, without reference to the specificities of Kuhn's historical argument.
 
   
A common misinterpretation of Kuhnian paradigms is the belief that the discovery of paradigm shifts and the dynamic nature of science (with its many opportunities for subjective judgments by scientists) is a case for [[relativism]]: the view that all kinds of belief systems are equal, such that [[magic (paranormal)|magic]], [[religion|religious concepts]] or [[pseudoscience]] would be of equal working value to true [[science]]. Kuhn vehemently denies this interpretation and states that when a scientific paradigm is replaced by a new one, albeit through a complex social process, the new one is ''always better'', not just different.
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When enough significant anomalies have accrued against a current paradigm, the scientific discipline is thrown into a state of ''crisis,'' according to Kuhn. During this crisis, new ideas, perhaps ones previously discarded, are tried. Eventually a ''new'' paradigm is formed, which gains its own new followers, and an intellectual "battle" takes place between the followers of the new paradigm and the hold-outs of the old paradigm. Again, for early 20th century physics, the transition between the [[James Clerk Maxwell|Maxwellian]] [[Maxwell's equations|electromagnetic worldview]] and the [[Albert Einstein|Einsteinian]] [[theory of relativity|Relativistic]] worldview was neither instantaneous nor calm, and instead involved a protracted set of "attacks," both with empirical data as well as rhetorical or philosophical arguments, by both sides, with the Einsteinian theory winning out in the long-run. Again, the weighing of evidence and importance of new data was fit through the human sieve: some scientists found the simplicity of Einstein's equations to be most compelling, while some found them more complicated than the notion of Maxwell's aether which they banished. Some found [[Arthur Eddington|Eddington's]] photographs of light bending around the sun to be compelling, some questioned their accuracy and meaning. Sometimes the convincing force is just time itself and the human toll it takes, Kuhn said, using a quote from [[Max Planck]]: "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
   
These claims of relativism are, however, tied to another claim that Kuhn does not at least somewhat endorse: that the language and theories of different paradigms cannot be translated into one another or rationally evaluated against one another — that they are ''incommensurable''. This gave rise to much talk of different peoples and cultures having radically different worldviews or conceptual schemes — so different that whether or not one was better, they could not be understood by one another. However, the [[philosopher]] [[Donald Davidson (philosopher)|Donald Davidson]] published a highly-regarded essay in 1974, "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme," arguing that the notion that any languages or theories could be incommensurable with one another was itself incoherent. If this is correct, Kuhn's claims must be taken in a weaker sense than they often are. Furthermore, the hold of the Kuhnian analysis on [[social science]] has long been tenuous with the wide application of multi-paradigmatic approaches in order to understand complex human behaviour (see for example John Hassard, ''Sociology and Organisation Theory. Positivism, Paradigm and Postmodernity''. Cambridge University Press. 1993.)
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After a given discipline has changed from one paradigm to another, this is called, in Kuhn's terminology, a ''scientific revolution'' or a ''paradigm shift''. It is often this final conclusion, the result of the long process, that is meant when the term ''paradigm shift'' is used colloquially: simply the (often radical) change of worldview, without reference to the specificities of Kuhn's historical argument.
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==Science and paradigm shift==
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A common misinterpretation of paradigms is the belief that the discovery of paradigm shifts and the dynamic nature of science (with its many opportunities for subjective judgments by scientists) is a case for [[relativism]]: the view that all kinds of belief systems are equal, such that [[magic (paranormal)|magic]], [[religion|religious concepts]] or [[pseudoscience]] would be of equal working value to true [[science]]. {{Fact|date=April 2008}} Kuhn vehemently denies this interpretation and states that when a scientific paradigm is replaced by a new one, albeit through a complex social process, the new one is ''always better'', not just different.
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These claims of relativism are, however, tied to another claim that Kuhn does at least somewhat endorse: that the language and theories of different paradigms cannot be translated into one another or rationally evaluated against one another — that they are ''incommensurable''. This gave rise to much talk of different peoples and cultures having radically different worldviews or conceptual schemes — so different that whether or not one was better, they could not be understood by one another. However, the [[philosopher]] [[Donald Davidson (philosopher)|Donald Davidson]] published a highly regarded essay in 1974, "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme," arguing that the notion that any languages or theories could be incommensurable with one another was itself incoherent. If this is correct, Kuhn's claims must be taken in a weaker sense than they often are. Furthermore, the hold of the Kuhnian analysis on [[social science]] has long been tenuous with the wide application of multi-paradigmatic approaches in order to understand complex human behaviour (see for example John Hassard, ''Sociology and Organisation Theory. Positivism, Paradigm and Postmodernity''. Cambridge University Press. 1993.)
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Paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics at the end of the 19th century. At that time, physics seemed to be a discipline filling in the last few details of a largely worked-out system. In 1900, Lord Kelvin famously stated, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." Five years later, Albert Einstein published his paper on special relativity, which challenged the very simple set of rules laid down by Newtonian mechanics, which had been used to describe force and motion for over three hundred years.
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In ''The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'', Kuhn wrote, "Successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science." (p.12) Kuhn's idea was itself revolutionary in its time, as it caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science. Thus, it could be argued that it caused or was itself part of a "paradigm shift" in the history and sociology of science. However, Kuhn would not recognise such a paradigm shift. Being in the social sciences, people can still use earlier ideas to discuss the history of science.
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Philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn himself, ultimately accepted a modified version of Kuhn's model, which synthesizes his original view with the gradualist model that preceded it. Kuhn's original model is now generally seen as too limited.
   
 
== Examples of paradigm shifts in science ==
 
== Examples of paradigm shifts in science ==
There are a number of "classical cases" given for examples of Kuhnian paradigm shifts in science. The most common criticism of Kuhn from historians of science, though, is that the notion of a clean paradigm shift only seems to apply when one takes a very abstract view of the history of any given theory transition. When looking at the details, it has been argued, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern a coherent "paradigm" to shift in to or out of, unless one is examining only [[pedagogy|pedagogical]] practices (such as textbooks, which is in fact largely how Kuhn developed his theory). If paradigm shifts exist in the Kuhnian sense, the following are generally considered to be examples:
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<!-- {{main|List of paradigm shifts in science}} This has been deleted -->
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Some of the "classical cases" of Kuhnian paradigm shifts in science are:
   
 
* The transition from a [[Geocentric model|Ptolemaic]] [[cosmology]] to a [[Heliocentrism|Copernican]] one.
 
* The transition from a [[Geocentric model|Ptolemaic]] [[cosmology]] to a [[Heliocentrism|Copernican]] one.
* The unification of classical physics by [[Isaac Newton|Newton]] into a coherent mechanical worldview.
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* The acceptance of the theory of [[biogenesis]], that [[omne vivum ex ovo|all life comes from life]], as opposed to the theory of [[spontaneous generation]], which began in the 17th century and was not complete until the 19th century with [[Pasteur]].
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* The shift in [[geometry|geometric outlook]] from particular structures to [[Symmetry group#Symmetry groups in general|transformation group theory]] with [[Felix Klein]]'s [[Erlangen Program]].
 
* The transition between the [[James Clerk Maxwell|Maxwellian]] [[Luminiferous aether|Electromagnetic]] worldview and the [[Albert Einstein|Einsteinian]] [[Theory of relativity|Relativistic]] worldview.
 
* The transition between the [[James Clerk Maxwell|Maxwellian]] [[Luminiferous aether|Electromagnetic]] worldview and the [[Albert Einstein|Einsteinian]] [[Theory of relativity|Relativistic]] worldview.
 
* The transition between the worldview of [[Newtonian physics]] and the [[Albert Einstein|Einsteinian]] [[Theory of relativity|Relativistic]] worldview.
 
* The transition between the worldview of [[Newtonian physics]] and the [[Albert Einstein|Einsteinian]] [[Theory of relativity|Relativistic]] worldview.
* The development of [[Quantum mechanics]], which redefined classical mechanics.
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* The development of [[Quantum mechanics]], which redefined [[Classical mechanics]].
* The development of [[Charles Darwin|Darwin's]] theory of evolution by [[natural selection]], which overturned [[Creationism|special creation]] as the dominant scientific explanation for the diversity of life.
 
 
* The acceptance of [[Plate tectonics]] as the explanation for large-scale geologic changes.
 
* The acceptance of [[Plate tectonics]] as the explanation for large-scale geologic changes.
 
* The acceptance of [[Lavoisier]]'s theory of chemical reactions and combustion in place of [[phlogiston theory]], known as the [[Chemical Revolution]].
 
* The acceptance of [[Lavoisier]]'s theory of chemical reactions and combustion in place of [[phlogiston theory]], known as the [[Chemical Revolution]].
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* The acceptance of [[Lamarck]]'s theory of [[Lamarckism|evolution]] to replace [[creationism]].
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* The acceptance of [[Charles Darwin]]'s theory of [[natural selection]] replaced [[Lamarckism]] as the mechanism for evolution.
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* The acceptance of [[Mendelian inheritance]], as opposed to [[pangenesis]] in the early 20th century
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* The movement, known as the [[Cognitive revolution]], away from [[Behaviorism|Behaviourist]] approaches to [[Psychology|psychological]] study and the acceptance of [[cognition]] as central to studying human behaviour.
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* The "[[Keynesian economics|Keynesian revolution]]" is typically viewed as a major shift in [[macroeconomics]].<ref>[[David Laidler]]. ''Fabricating the Keynesian Revolution''.</ref> Later, the acceptance of the [[monetarism]] which had been denied by [[John Maynard Keynes]] marked a second shift, a shift which was initially extremely divisive.<ref>Bordo MD, Schwartz AJ. (2008). [https://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/08/09/Bordo.pdf Monetary Economic Research at the St. Louis Fed During Ted Balbach’s Tenure as Research Director]. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis ''Review''.</ref>
   
==Other Uses==
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==Examples of paradigm shifts in complex systems and organizations==
The term "paradigm shift" has found uses in other contexts, representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern &mdash; a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing:
 
   
* [[Margaret Mead]], noted anthropologist, shows a flashlight to the indigenous [[New Guinea]] people.
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* The English [[monarchy]] with the signing of [[Magna Carta]].
* People blind since birth are suddenly enabled to see.
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* Society with the invention of any of several innovations ([[Fire#Controlling_fire|fire]], the [[wheel]], [[gunpowder]], the [[Integrated circuit|microchip]], etc.).
* Development of new techniques in [[genetics]] impact long-standing assumptions in [[anthropology]].
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* Warfare with the development of the [[military aviation|airplane]].
* An apparently miraculous healing is witnessed by someone who has never believed in miracles.
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*Communication after the invention of the World Wide Web.
* Conversion experiences, and the resulting shifts in ideology and social behavior.
 
   
Examples of paradigm shifts in complex systems and organizations:
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==As marketing speak==
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In the later part of the 1990s, 'paradigm shift' emerged as a [[buzzword]], popularized as [[marketing speak]] and appearing more frequently in print and publication.<ref>
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Robert Fulford, Globe and Mail (June 5, 1999). 'http://www.robertfulford.com/Paradigm.html' Retrieved on 2008-04-25.</ref> In his book, ''Mind The Gaffe'', author [[Larry Trask]] advises readers to refrain from using it, and to use caution when reading anything that contains the phrase. It is referred to in several articles and books<ref name="cnet">[http://www.cnet.com/4520-11136_1-6275610-1.html Cnet.com's Top 10 Buzzwords]</ref><ref name="Complete Idiot's Guide to A Smart Vocabulary">[http://www.mcfedries.com/vocabulary/intro.asp "The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Smart Vocabulary" p142-143, author: Paul McFedries publisher: Alpha; 1st edition (May 7, 2001), ISBN-13: 978-0028639970]</ref> as abused and overused to the point of becoming meaningless.
   
* The English [[monarchy]] with the signing of [[Magna Carta]].
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==Other uses==
* The "[[Cambrian explosion|explosion of life]]" marking the end of the [[Pre-Cambrian]] Era.
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The term "paradigm shift" has found uses in other contexts, representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern &mdash; a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing:
* Society with the invention of any of several innovations (fire, the wheel, gunpowder, the microchip, etc.).
 
* Warfare and corporate structure with the development of the [[Prussia|Prussian]] [[military]] model.
 
   
The phrase has been abused in "[[marketing]] speak", and is often considered a meaningless [[buzzword]] in this context. This is now so widespread that [[R. L. Trask]] lists it in his book ''Mind The Gaffe'' as a phrase never to use, and he advises caution when reading anything that contains this phrase.
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* Handa, M. L., a professor of sociology in education at O.I.S.E. [[University of Toronto]], [[Canada]], developed the concept of a paradigm within the context of social sciences. He defines what he means by "paradigm" and introduces the idea of a "social paradigm". In addition, he identifies the basic component of any social paradigm. Like Kuhn, he addresses the issue of changing paradigms, the process popularly known as "paradigm shift." In this respect, he focuses on the social circumstances which precipitate such a shift. Relatedly, he addresses how that shift affects social institutions, including the institution of education.
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*The concept has been developed in economics ([[Giovanni Dosi]]) in the identification of new techno-economic paradigms as changes in technological systems that have a major influence on the behaviour of the entire economy. This concept is linked to [[Schumpeter]]'s idea of "creative gales of destruction". Examples include the move to mass production, and the introduction of microelectronics.
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*The mainstream availability in the U.S. of the female [[birth control]] pills in the 1960s, combined with effective new treatments for venereal diseases, led to the [[Sexual Revolution]] that accompanied many other shifts in attitudes and ideas during that period.
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*A widely distributed picture of the Earth entitled "[[Earthrise]]" taken from the moon by astronauts is thought by some to have deeply affected the consciousness of humanity in helping to usher in the [[environmentalist]] movement which gained great prominence in the years immediately following distribution of that image.
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* Development of new techniques in [[genetics]] impact long-standing assumptions in [[anthropology]]. {{Fact|date=August 2008}}
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* A [[Feminist]] Organization founded in New York City by Lisa A. Snyder and Meredith Villano in 2007 who's mission is to foster a thriving and active feminist community with the purpose of self-expression, creating a shift in social, political, and economic consciousness [http://www.ParadigmShiftNYC.com]. Paradigm Shift has been known to have open mics across [[New York City]], open artistic expressions, and famous feminist guest speakers, such as Marti Kheel and [[Amy Richards]]. The idea was sparked from the experiences of Snyder's span of [[Michigan Women's Music Festival]]s intertwined with her work at [[Syracuse University]]'s School of Art and Design and Villano's studies of feminism at [[Rutgers University]] and being president of the NOW chapter ([[National Organization for Women]]).<ref>http://www.ParadigmShiftNYC.com</ref>
   
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
*[[Mindset]]
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{{col-begin}}
*[[Culture bias]]
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{{col-break}}
*[[Cognitive bias]]
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* [[Cognitive bias]]
*[[Confirmation bias]]
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* [[Confirmation bias]]
*[[Disruptive technology]]
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* [[Cultural bias]]
*[[Infrastructure bias]]
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* [[Disruptive technology]]
*[[Law of Accelerating Returns]]
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* [[Gaston Bachelard]]
*[[Notation bias]]
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* [[Don Tapscott]] -- author of "Paradigm Shift"
*[[Weltanschauung]]
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* [[Infrastructure bias]]
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* [[Innovation]]
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* [[Inquiry]]
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* [[Kondratiev wave]]
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{{col-break}}
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* [[Accelerating change]]
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* [[Mindset]]
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* [[Notational bias]]
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* [[Weltanschauung]]
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* [[Natural science]]
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* [[Human history]]
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{{col-end}}
   
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
 
*[http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Electrical-Engineering-and-Computer-Science/6-933JThe-Structure-of-Engineering-RevolutionsFall2001/CourseHome/index.htm MIT 6.933J - The Structure of Engineering Revolutions]. From MIT OpenCourseWare, course materials (graduate level) for a course on the history of technology through a [[Thomas Kuhn|Kuhnian]] lens.
 
*[http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Electrical-Engineering-and-Computer-Science/6-933JThe-Structure-of-Engineering-RevolutionsFall2001/CourseHome/index.htm MIT 6.933J - The Structure of Engineering Revolutions]. From MIT OpenCourseWare, course materials (graduate level) for a course on the history of technology through a [[Thomas Kuhn|Kuhnian]] lens.
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*[http://www.niquette.com/puzzles/housenp.htm] From Puzzles with a Purpose, A [[Thomas Kuhn|Kuhnian]] illustration of a worrisome implication for technology.
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== Footnotes ==
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Latest revision as of 06:54, November 18, 2008

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Paradigm shift, sometimes known as extraordinary science or revolutionary science, is the term first used by Thomas Kuhn in his influential 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions to describe a change in basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science. It is in contrast to his idea of normal science.

It has since become widely applied to many other realms of human experience as well even though Kuhn himself restricted the use of the term to the hard sciences. According to Kuhn, "A paradigm is what members of a scientific community, and they alone, share.” (The Essential Tension, 1997). Unlike a normal scientist, Kuhn held, “a student in the humanities has constantly before him a number of competing and incommensurable solutions to these problems, solutions that he must ultimately examine for himself.” (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). A scientist, however, once a paradigm shift is complete, is not allowed the luxury, for example, of positing the possibility that miasma causes the flu or that ether carries light in the same way that a critic in the Humanities can choose to adopt a 19th century theory of poetics, for instance, or select Marxism as an explanation of economic behaviour. Thus, paradigms, in the sense that Kuhn used them, do not exist in Humanities or social sciences. Nonetheless, the term has been adopted since the 1960s and applied in non-scientific contexts.

Kuhnian paradigm shiftsEdit

Duck-Rabbit illusion

Kuhn used the duck-rabbit optical illusion to demonstrate the way in which a paradigm shift could cause one to see the same information in an entirely different way.

An epistemological paradigm shift was called a scientific revolution by epistemologist and historian of science Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

A scientific revolution occurs, according to Kuhn, when scientists encounter anomalies which cannot be explained by the universally accepted paradigm within which scientific progress has thereto been made. The paradigm, in Kuhn's view, is not simply the current theory, but the entire worldview in which it exists, and all of the implications which come with it. There are anomalies for all paradigms, Kuhn maintained, that are brushed away as acceptable levels of error, or simply ignored and not dealt with (a principal argument Kuhn uses to reject Karl Popper's model of falsifiability as the key force involved in scientific change). Rather, according to Kuhn, anomalies have various levels of significance to the practitioners of science at the time. To put it in the context of early 20th century physics, some scientists found the problems with calculating Mercury's perihelion more troubling than the Michelson-Morley experiment results, and some the other way around. Kuhn's model of scientific change differs here, and in many places, from that of the logical positivists in that it puts an enhanced emphasis on the individual humans involved as scientists, rather than abstracting science into a purely logical or philosophical venture.

When enough significant anomalies have accrued against a current paradigm, the scientific discipline is thrown into a state of crisis, according to Kuhn. During this crisis, new ideas, perhaps ones previously discarded, are tried. Eventually a new paradigm is formed, which gains its own new followers, and an intellectual "battle" takes place between the followers of the new paradigm and the hold-outs of the old paradigm. Again, for early 20th century physics, the transition between the Maxwellian electromagnetic worldview and the Einsteinian Relativistic worldview was neither instantaneous nor calm, and instead involved a protracted set of "attacks," both with empirical data as well as rhetorical or philosophical arguments, by both sides, with the Einsteinian theory winning out in the long-run. Again, the weighing of evidence and importance of new data was fit through the human sieve: some scientists found the simplicity of Einstein's equations to be most compelling, while some found them more complicated than the notion of Maxwell's aether which they banished. Some found Eddington's photographs of light bending around the sun to be compelling, some questioned their accuracy and meaning. Sometimes the convincing force is just time itself and the human toll it takes, Kuhn said, using a quote from Max Planck: "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

After a given discipline has changed from one paradigm to another, this is called, in Kuhn's terminology, a scientific revolution or a paradigm shift. It is often this final conclusion, the result of the long process, that is meant when the term paradigm shift is used colloquially: simply the (often radical) change of worldview, without reference to the specificities of Kuhn's historical argument.

Science and paradigm shiftEdit

A common misinterpretation of paradigms is the belief that the discovery of paradigm shifts and the dynamic nature of science (with its many opportunities for subjective judgments by scientists) is a case for relativism: the view that all kinds of belief systems are equal, such that magic, religious concepts or pseudoscience would be of equal working value to true science. [How to reference and link to summary or text] Kuhn vehemently denies this interpretation and states that when a scientific paradigm is replaced by a new one, albeit through a complex social process, the new one is always better, not just different.

These claims of relativism are, however, tied to another claim that Kuhn does at least somewhat endorse: that the language and theories of different paradigms cannot be translated into one another or rationally evaluated against one another — that they are incommensurable. This gave rise to much talk of different peoples and cultures having radically different worldviews or conceptual schemes — so different that whether or not one was better, they could not be understood by one another. However, the philosopher Donald Davidson published a highly regarded essay in 1974, "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme," arguing that the notion that any languages or theories could be incommensurable with one another was itself incoherent. If this is correct, Kuhn's claims must be taken in a weaker sense than they often are. Furthermore, the hold of the Kuhnian analysis on social science has long been tenuous with the wide application of multi-paradigmatic approaches in order to understand complex human behaviour (see for example John Hassard, Sociology and Organisation Theory. Positivism, Paradigm and Postmodernity. Cambridge University Press. 1993.)

Paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics at the end of the 19th century. At that time, physics seemed to be a discipline filling in the last few details of a largely worked-out system. In 1900, Lord Kelvin famously stated, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." Five years later, Albert Einstein published his paper on special relativity, which challenged the very simple set of rules laid down by Newtonian mechanics, which had been used to describe force and motion for over three hundred years.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn wrote, "Successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science." (p.12) Kuhn's idea was itself revolutionary in its time, as it caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science. Thus, it could be argued that it caused or was itself part of a "paradigm shift" in the history and sociology of science. However, Kuhn would not recognise such a paradigm shift. Being in the social sciences, people can still use earlier ideas to discuss the history of science.

Philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn himself, ultimately accepted a modified version of Kuhn's model, which synthesizes his original view with the gradualist model that preceded it. Kuhn's original model is now generally seen as too limited.

Examples of paradigm shifts in science Edit

Some of the "classical cases" of Kuhnian paradigm shifts in science are:

Examples of paradigm shifts in complex systems and organizationsEdit

As marketing speakEdit

In the later part of the 1990s, 'paradigm shift' emerged as a buzzword, popularized as marketing speak and appearing more frequently in print and publication.[3] In his book, Mind The Gaffe, author Larry Trask advises readers to refrain from using it, and to use caution when reading anything that contains the phrase. It is referred to in several articles and books[4][5] as abused and overused to the point of becoming meaningless.

Other usesEdit

The term "paradigm shift" has found uses in other contexts, representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern — a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing:

  • Handa, M. L., a professor of sociology in education at O.I.S.E. University of Toronto, Canada, developed the concept of a paradigm within the context of social sciences. He defines what he means by "paradigm" and introduces the idea of a "social paradigm". In addition, he identifies the basic component of any social paradigm. Like Kuhn, he addresses the issue of changing paradigms, the process popularly known as "paradigm shift." In this respect, he focuses on the social circumstances which precipitate such a shift. Relatedly, he addresses how that shift affects social institutions, including the institution of education.
  • The concept has been developed in economics (Giovanni Dosi) in the identification of new techno-economic paradigms as changes in technological systems that have a major influence on the behaviour of the entire economy. This concept is linked to Schumpeter's idea of "creative gales of destruction". Examples include the move to mass production, and the introduction of microelectronics.
  • The mainstream availability in the U.S. of the female birth control pills in the 1960s, combined with effective new treatments for venereal diseases, led to the Sexual Revolution that accompanied many other shifts in attitudes and ideas during that period.
  • A widely distributed picture of the Earth entitled "Earthrise" taken from the moon by astronauts is thought by some to have deeply affected the consciousness of humanity in helping to usher in the environmentalist movement which gained great prominence in the years immediately following distribution of that image.
  • A Feminist Organization founded in New York City by Lisa A. Snyder and Meredith Villano in 2007 who's mission is to foster a thriving and active feminist community with the purpose of self-expression, creating a shift in social, political, and economic consciousness [1]. Paradigm Shift has been known to have open mics across New York City, open artistic expressions, and famous feminist guest speakers, such as Marti Kheel and Amy Richards. The idea was sparked from the experiences of Snyder's span of Michigan Women's Music Festivals intertwined with her work at Syracuse University's School of Art and Design and Villano's studies of feminism at Rutgers University and being president of the NOW chapter (National Organization for Women).[6]

See alsoEdit

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Footnotes Edit


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