Normal Science and Post-Normal Sciences

Normal Science and Post-Normal Sciences

Elie Geisler (Illinois Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-284-8.ch004
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This chapter describes the key attributes of normal science and the recently heralded post-normal science. Drawing from the philosophy of science and other literatures, the chapter argues that the subjugation of post-normal science to the social and economic urgencies and exigencies is only a matter of degree, since such relationship has existed ever since science had become “big science,” nurtured by society through public funding. The chapter provides examples from the healthcare sector. These examples show the confluence of topics and ailments that are given priority in research as those same areas considered urgent by the social and economic elites who influence the funding of science in healthcare and medicine.
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Paradigms And Normal Science

Thomas Kuhn was another scholar in this first period whose work helped to coin the concepts of “paradigm” and “normal science.” Kuhn had argued that scientific progress is as much a social phenomenon as it is the rigorous and objective examination of observational data according to a proposed model. He suggested that scientific disciplines have a distinct historical development. Key progress from the pre-paradigmatic stage to the paradigmatic (or “normal” stage), and finally to the revolutionary stage (in which the discipline transitions from one paradigm to another through a crisis that develops in the degree to which scholars in the discipline have faith in the ability of the paradigm to solve the problems of the discipline).

Kuhn argued that when a paradigm is accepted by the disciplinary scientific community, it is practical as “normal science.” A paradigm start as a set of promises that a line of research and a proposed set of scientific models, assumptions, and methods will lead to new solutions to the problems posed by the discipline. When this paradigm takes hold, it assumes more rigorous lines and methods of inquiry, and its adherent begin to establish and to rely on a ‘tradition” in the conduct of research and discovery in such a disciplinary paradigm.

The paradigm is the core of normal science. Within its framework there are established criteria for which problems are to be the object of inquiry, which models and methods are to be used, and which solutions and discoveries are to be accepted by peers in the disciplinary community.

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