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By Peter I. Bogucki, Pam J. Crabtree

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The former were “not responsible for such paradigm shifts as the Copernican, Newtonian, chemical, and Einsteinian revolutions. 19 It is worth remarking that in Section VI “Anomaly and the Emergence of Scientific Discoveries”, the chapter in which Kuhn discusses anomaly-driven discoveries, revolutions are never mentioned, whereas paradigm shifts are. An alternative, revised version of Kuhn would regard not every paradigm change as a scientific revolution. In terms of paradigms there are small shifts and there are radical replacements.

In the case of Ptolemy’s Almagest, astronomers in the fifteenth century became more fully aware of the failure of fit between that system and observation. Demands from navigators for more accurate techniques of prediction and from the church for calendar reform made this acknowledgment more acute. Neo-platonism also focused thinking on the mathematical elegance of the system – and its absence. Ptolemy’s equant must always have seemed a somewhat ad hoc device, a device whose only role was to get the mathematics to come out right.

I shall illustrate Kuhn’s ideas using the history of astronomy, which was the subject of his first book The Copernican Revolution (1957). The first distinction Kuhn makes among phases in the history of a science separates an immature period in the development of a science from its becoming a mature science. Kuhn has little to say about immature science – the focus of his interest is on the cyclical nature of mature science. It is clear however that people have always had beliefs on subject matters we would call scientific – the stars, the composition of matter, the nature of living things.

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