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Published: Kem. Ind. 51 (9) (2002) 397–400
Paper reference number: KUI-27/2001
Paper type: Conference paper

Dispositions to Discovery

I. Lukovits


Since Kuhn advocated his famous theory of scientific revolutions, several other models accounting for the structure of scientific discoveries have been proposed. Kuhn claims that replacement of paradigms by new ones is a necessary process. I will argue against this position by showing that several (if not all) discoveries were contingent events. As an example the discovery of radioactive decay and of penicillin will be discussed. It will be pointed out that most models (even those implemented on a computer) are in some respect tautological and might not be capable of accounting for new dispositional properties a priori, although they may be used to explain such events and properties a posteriori. Coherence between facts accounted for by the set of accepted theories will be discussed, because some successful (chemical) models may either postulate the existence of items, which have never been instantiated and may not exist, or are based on assumptions, which are not true. Finally, I will try to show that Kuhn's wording "normal scientific progress" may be better articulated (to put it mildly) as "scientific" stagnation.

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paradigm, scientific revolution, philosophy of science