Imagine some philosopher answers a question of the form "What is X?". Then a critic points out that, according to this answer, O is not X, but we clearly consider it to be X. It seems that the philosopher's reply can take one of two directions:

  1. "Oh, you're right. My answer is wrong. Back to the desk with me!"
  2. "No, you're wrong. My answer is right. It is simply an error to think that O is X."

I'm looking for a term (or terms) for this dichotomy of approaches. Answer 1 takes our commonsense idea of X for granted, while answer 2 challenges it to change. I, therefore, dabbled with words like "conservative" and "progressive", but it's awkward, and I can't imagine that no one before me coined a word for that. I would also be grateful for pointers towards literature discussing this dichotomy.

(A historical example might be parts of the Popper-Kuhn controversy. Popper answered the question "What is science?". Kuhn pointed out that, according to Popper, normal science is not science, but actually, we consider it to be science. Popper opted for answer 2, called normal scientists people "one ought to be sorry for", and stuck with his demarcation criterion. But many philosophers of science went "back to the desk" and tried to accommodate normal science.)

  • 1
    As Kuhn concluded rightly Popper's demarcation criterion standard is high and most applicable to paradigm level shift of scientific theories, not for everyday admin-like activities of scientists. If it were the only standard, then the title of most scientists are in question... But whenever a scientist proposes a truly new synthetic posteriori theory or law Popper's metaphysical criterion could be invoked to make the judgement. Thus there's no true dichotomy or paradox here, and philosophy certainly is not required to conform to common sense on these metaphysical classification issues... Jul 29, 2022 at 20:59

2 Answers 2


Interesting. This is the first question that I have encountered which pitches philosophy against common sense. Aristotle considered common sense an attribute of the animal soul that is distinct from reason. Philosophy depends on reason. Your example refers to paradigm shift in science. The dichotomy is between normal science and scientific revolution. The term epistemological rupture was coined by Gaston Bachelard to refer to the removal of epistemological obstacles, unconscious obstacles to scientific thought. I think that epistemological rupture or epistemological break might be the term that you are looking for. Btw, in my view, normal science is science. It is just that we need to be aware that normal science occurs in the context of a prevailing paradigm. When the paradigm is overturned and replaced, normal science resumes within the new paradigm. Most science is normal science, but scientific revolutions are the most important scientific events.


Objective Confirmation bias.
If that's what you were looking for let me know, if not let me know what you come up with if you arrive at it please

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .