Matthew Nees, in The New Atlantis, with another look at The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, fifty years after it was published:

Thomas Kuhn’s thesis has often been taken to mean that choices between competing theories or paradigms are arbitrary — merely a matter of subjective taste. As noted earlier, Kuhn challenged the claim that he was a relativist in a 1973 lecture, offering a list of five standards by which we may defend the superiority of one theory over another: accuracy, consistency, scope, simplicity, and fruitfulness. What these criteria precisely mean, how they apply to a given theory, and how they rank in priority are themselves questions subject to dispute by scientists committed to opposing theories. But it is the existence of recognized standards, even if the standards are open to debate, that allows any judgment to be available for public discussion. And we may add that if social scientists recognize the same standards, then debates over their meaning, application, and priority are harder to settle than in physics because the social sciences are intertwined with philosophical questions that are themselves concerned with what our standards of rationality ought to be.

This is good to read in conjunction with Justin Fox's post, at the Harvard Business Review, arguing that economics, which has been encroaching on every other discipline for the past couple of decades, is on the verge of losing its empire. (No elaboration given due to the irreducible risk of going through the looking glass.)


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