I read long time ago about Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn's demonstrate that scientific paradigms are the driving force that makes science go on, but more for social reasons than for pure scientific reasons. He speaks of paradigms changing according to the domination of social groups.

If we still admit that it is on the basis of social reasons that scientific modifications and even revolutions are born, is the paradigm, the sufficient synthesis to represent the world, still the driving force of scientific breakthrough ?

I admit it was the case with Copernic theory on helicentrism was a paradigm, as it was for Newton's gravity or Einstein relativity. The latest was such a breakthrough that it allowed us to construct power plant and nuclear bombs. Yet It seems to me that, historically speaking it is rather the know-how rather than the knowledge or the Science that is making scientific breakthrough since computer science and management. Indeed it isn't anymore paradigms that revolutionize the world but some inventions of some gifted people : like the Apple computer for instance as well as well driven marketing campaign of the created product. It definitely seems to me to be different from the paradigms winning social support that Kuhn's believed where leading the scientific breakthrough.

  • I call it Science.. emphesis on the capital letter. science (liwer case) as it was.. and is at its best.. is a communal (for humanity) search for knowledge through the sharing of ideas and results. It is because Priestly consulted Lavoisier that we discovered oxygen.. as one small example. But now we have corporate, investment capital funded 'S'cience. and worse.. covert government science. science as we know it is almost a thing of the past, for many reasons not all of them good. There are very few scientists now.. and lots of people who are essentially corporate technicians.
    – Richard
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 23:10
  • "Know-how" are part of the paradigms, and paradigms were never "the driving force of scientific breakthroughs", anomalies were. Inventions are not science (although they may owe their possibility to it), they are engineering, and "revolutionizing the world" is not the task of science either, except for Marxists. It is conceptualizing it into paradigms, which occasionally undergoes discontinuities. Your view of what Kuhn was writing about seems to be rather off.
    – Conifold
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 3:37
  • 1
    According to Kuhn, paradigms are not the "driving force of scientific revolution"; they are the core of normal science. A SciRev is the break of a tradition of normal science with the corresponding replacement of the existing paradigm with a new one. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 10:43

1 Answer 1


Kuhn's theory is that the progress of science is not a smooth, linear process. Instead, it is a series of repeating phases. These alternate between periods of incremental, linear, data-driven progress within an existing conceptual structure (or paradigm) and periods of contentious, irregular, and sudden, socially-driven change between one conceptual structure and a contrasting one.

Your question is whether or not this is still true, given the that modern technological revolutions are (putatively) driven more by inventions or marketing.

I think this misunderstands Kuhn's claims, and his context. The use of science to create technology through invention, and the subsequent promotion and dissemination of that technology has arguably gone on forever. But that does not constitute a Kuhnian scientific revolution. Technology is an exploitation of existing science, and a technological revolution may take place at a social level among the general public. But a scientific revolution takes place within the scientific community, and involves a change in the way of seeing the world. It may be impacted or sparked by changes in existing technology, but it is not equivalent to those.

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