The Stages of Scientific Development

According to Kuhn, the development of a para- digm that comes to dominate a science occurs over a long period of time. Prior to the development of a paradigm, a science typically goes through a preparadigmatic stage during which a number of competing viewpoints exist. During this period, which Kuhn referred to as prescientific, a discipline is characterized by a number of rival camps or schools, a situation contrary to unification and that results in, essentially, random fact gathering. Such circumstances continue to exist until one school succeeds in defeating its competitors and becomes a paradigm. At this point, the discipline becomes a science, and a period of normal science begins. The normal science generated by the paradigm continues until the paradigm is displaced by a new one, which in turn will generate its own normal science. Kuhn saw sciences as passing through three distinct stages: the preparadigmatic stage, during which rival camps or schools compete for domi- nance of the field; the paradigmatic stage, during which the puzzle-solving activity called normal science occurs; and the revolutionary stage, during which an existing paradigm is displaced by another paradigm.

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