The Concept of Paradigm and the Ideal of Science in the Reconstructions of the History of Knowledge

Anna Michalska

The paper’s main objective is to bring out the original project of philosophy and history of science, underlying the famous works of Thomas Kuhn. In defiance of what is commonly envisaged, the model of scientific revolutions is demonstrated as a promising conceptual frame to be used with the purpose to reconstruct the development of modern and contemporary science. The analysis of the logic of explanation of scientific changes elaborated by Kuhn is based on two canonical monographs: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Copernican Revolution. It is argued that the standard, widespread interpretation of the model, assuming the drastic conceptual cuts to occur as a result of a paradigm change, is essentially untenable. In fact, the model implies that each change leads to the higher level order and is susceptible to rational reconstructions. Kuhn’s conception is subsequently confronted with Stefan Amsterdamski’s notion of ideal of science, with the intention of showing that the reversal of the relationship between explanans and explanandum as established inaforementioned works would have damaging consequences in terms of reconstructive attempts in history of science. It is shown that what is of most value in Amsterdamski’s workis indeed strictly Kuhnian in character.


Keywords: paradigm · disciplinary matrix · ideal of science · scientific revolution · rational reconstruction · development of science

Anna Michalska – Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Department of Theory of Cognition and Philosophy of Science, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Her main fields of research interest include philosophy of science, epistemology, history of scientific ideas.   »  

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