Science and truth

Via this episode of BloggingHeads, I came across an interesting article about the philosophy of science, specifically that of Thomas Kuhn. Money Quotes:

Scientists, as Kuhn describes them, are deeply conservative. Once indoctrinated into a paradigm, they generally devote themselves to solving “puzzles,” problems whose solutions reinforce and extend the scope of the paradigm rather than challenging it. Kuhn calls this “mopping up.” But there are always anomalies, phenomena that the paradigm cannot account for or that directly contradict it. Anomalies are often ignored. But if they accumulate, they may trigger a revolution (also called a paradigm shift, although not originally by Kuhn), in which scientists abandon the old paradigm for a new one.

Denying the view of science as a continual building process, Kuhn asserts that a revolution is a destructive as well as a creative event. The proposer of a new paradigm stands on the shoulders of giants and then bashes them over the head.

In other words, science advances funeral by funeral.

On the first day of my Advanced Macroeconomics class in 1994 the professor (I forget his name, I think that was the last class he taught before he retired) said that we should think of the truth as “the consensus of informed opinion”.

In other words, for practical purposes, the truth is the state of the art, as of right now, and we should expect it to change over time.

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