Philosophical Papers and Review

  • Abbreviation: Philos. Papers Rev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-663X
  • DOI: 10.5897/PPR
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 36

Book Review

The structure of scientific revolutions (Thomas S. Kuhn, 1970, 2nd ed. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press Ltd. 210 pages)

Solomon Melesse
  • Solomon Melesse
  • Senior Lecturer, Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies Department, Educational and Behavioral Sciences, Faculty, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Accepted: 31 August 2013
  •  Published: 30 September 2013



This book has thirteen chapters and a postscript developed after seven years of this edition. The organization of the book is disclosed here with. First, the book tried to see the contribution of history to the very existence of science in the different epochs. Secondly, it also considered the route, nature, and puzzle solving role of normal science. Third, the reason why paradigms are considered as the prioritized models in science is briefly treated. Fourth, anomalies as new problems that could not be solved with the known algorithm and the attendant reactions to this situations-discovery are well taken-in. Fifth, the possible responses of scientists about crisis and the attendant outcomes of science- new scientific theories which are realized through discovery are also part of the book. In the end, the book tried to explicate points such as progress, resolution, invisibility, nature and necessity, and how world view is changed by scientific revolution.

Generally, I found the book a high level literary work. I learnt some basic scientific research concepts which I did not come across through any other means so far in my professional as well as student hood years. My level of understanding of the basic thesis of this book triggered me to say that Kuhn is an intellectual “angel” who tried to lift up science from an extreme positivist tradition to the consideration of both- mainly the subjective world. Specifically speaking, the book has the following strengths:


- It tells about the role of history in science-which other research texts give scant consideration,

- It examines the route, nature and role of normal science, which we need to know as would be researchers,

- It enables users of the essay to have a profound understanding about paradigm, which implies the benefit behind framework, and paradigm shift and its causes, such as anomalies and crisis, and

- It provides a unified view of scientific revolutions

Though the strengths over weigh its weaknesses, the critic of this book identified the following limitations:

- Difficulties and misunderstandings created due to the old diction usage of the essay,

- Considering science as mere belief, subjective and non rational enterprise,

- Using one term to convey more than two meanings- example ‘paradigm’,

- The assertion that research can be done without referring a paradigm,

- Equating paradigm shift to revolution,

- The assertion that science has a certain pick time by which it becomes dormant to novelties,

- The assertion that research results in normal science are anticipated before hand,

- The assertion that paradigms guide research in the absence of scientific rules, and

- Piercing the scientist for failure without considering other relevant factors

- Examples provided to elaborate concepts; issues, etc do not serve their purpose. They rather make the Essay complex and ambiguous to users. Even I, as a natural science background as a high school student and mathematics minor in my First Degree, failed to understand most of the examples. As we all know from pedagogical principles, examples are believed to concretize concepts, issues, etc raised by the author. But they failed to realize this purpose that needs revisiting in this essay, and

- The author said nothing about the possible contributing factors to the occurrence of anomalies in the history of science.