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jrlewis's picture

The rate of change of an intellectual reaction?

Or how long does it take for scientists and general society to accept new discoveries, reclassifications, and theories?  The amount of time varies significantly.  I think that Thomas Kuhn’s characterization of the history and philosophy of science might offer some insight.  He differentiates between two modes of scientific progress normal science and revolutionary science.  Normal science is puzzle solving guided by a paradigm, story, or theory.  New observations and summaries of observations are added to the paradigm.  Revolutionary science occurs when one paradigm replaces another.  There are many reasons why one paradigm may supplant another.  The new paradigm might able to summarize the observations more simply, or offer different research opportunities, or answer questions that previous paradigm was unable to address.  I would like to argue that a change in nomenclature implies a change in theory.  Naming is a method of summarizing information; it is a component of a paradigm.  Therefore, Pluto’s reclassification is a small paradigm change, an example of revolutionary science.  The controversy described in the above articles are merely indications that the revolution is not finished. 

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