||The working assumptions, procedures and findings routinely accepted by a group of scholars, which together define a stable pattern of scientific activity; this in turn defines the community which shares in it (cf. problematic). The term comes from Kuhn (1962, 1970), who argued that \'normal science\' proceeds uninterrupted through the cumulative sedimentation of theoretical systems and empirical materials, until it begins to be disrupted by a cluster of \'anomalies\' which cannot be explained away or subsumed within the existing framework; the pressure is temporarily accommodated by what Kuhn called \'extraordinary research\' which, if successful, eventually produces a \'revolution\', i.e. a \'paradigm shift\', which inaugurates the emergence of a new disciplinary matrix.
Criticisms of the concept have been registered at two levels. First, and most generally, Kuhn\'s original formulation is questionable; even though he modified his views between the first and second editions, his usages remained unclear (e.g. Mastermann, in Lakatos and Musgrave, 1970, recorded 21 different meanings of \'paradigm\' in his work) and yet at the same time overbold, e.g. the consensus within any one science is seldom complete and stable, and the negotiation of systems of concepts is not an autonomous activity carried out entirely within the confines of a particular discipline or discourse (see Mulkay, 1979). Indeed, Karl Popper â€” whose The logic of scientific discovery (1959) has been a formative influence on many philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn â€” thought that \'one ought to be sorry for\' Kuhn\'s \'normal\' scientist because, as a matter of empirical record, any scientist worthy of the name is necessarily engaged in \'extraordinary research\': in short, normal science is not so normal. His objections to the theory of paradigms as \'the myth of the framework\' (see also critical rationalism) were extended and refined by Imre Lakatos (in Lakatos and Musgrave, 1970), who claimed that science in fact advances (and, prescriptively, that it ought to advance) through progressive \'problemshifts\'. A series of propositions is judged as \'theoretically progressive\' if \'each new theory has some excess empirical content over its predecessors, i.e. if it predicts some novel, hitherto unexpected fact\', and as \'empirically progressive\' if \'some of this empirical content is also corroborated\', i.e. if each new theory leads us to the discovery of some new fact (see also Wheeler, 1982; Chouinard et al., 1984). Against these various objections, however, Kuhn has himself acknowledged that he \'made unnecessary difficulties for many readers\'. In writing The structure of scientific revolutions, he recalled:
[P]aradigms took on a life of their own, largely displacing the previous talk of consensus. Having begun simply as exemplary problem solutions, they expanded their empire to include, first, the classic books in which these accepted examples initially appeared and, finally, the entire global set of commitments shared by members of a particular scientific community. The more global use of the term is the only one most readers of the book have recognized, and the inevitable result has been confusion: many of the things said there about paradigms apply only to the original sense of the term. Though both senses seem to me important, they do need to be distinguished, and the word \'paradigm\' is appropriate only to the first. (Kuhn, 1977, pp. xix-xx)Hence, the \'more fundamental\' (localized) sense of paradigm is what Kuhn now refers to as an exemplar; the other (global) sense of paradigm is what Kuhn now calls a disciplinary matrix. He attaches considerable importance to the empirical identification of scientific communities and to the scrutiny of the disciplinary matrix in which their members share because this is \'central to the cognitive operation of the group\' (emphasis added): in other words, Kuhn\'s model is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is this central point which most of Kuhn\'s critics have missed (see Barnes, 1982).
Second, and more specifically, the application of the concept of a paradigm (in either sense) to geography is open to objection. Kuhn himself restricted his account to the natural sciences â€” indeed, one of the reasons he formulated the notion of \'paradigms\' in the first place was his perception of deep-rooted disagreements about basic premises that seemed to him to characterize social science but not natural science: except in certain phases of transformation â€” so it is hardly surprising that attempts to apply Kuhn to the history of human geography should be so unsuccessful (Johnston, 1997). Most of the early applications of Kuhn, however, were prescriptive rather than descriptive. Chorley and Haggett, for example (in their Models in geography, 1967), drew on Kuhn to argue that the quantitative revolution represented the establishment of a \'model-based paradigm\' for geography, but their usage was at best polemical (Stoddart, 1981; but cf. Stoddart, 1967). Certainly, they did not identify any \'anomalies\' in the Kuhnian sense within the framework of traditional regional geography, and insofar as they sought to overthrow the regional \'paradigm\' and replace it with a (\'revolutionary\') model-based spatial science, then their use of Kuhn was patently as prescriptive as most of Kuhn\'s critics. What is more, Kuhn\'s whole conception of science was irredeemably non-positivist (cf. Marshall, 1982) and there is something perverse in using his writings to legitimize the rise of a largely positivist geography (see positivism; Billinge et al., 1984). Kuhn\'s project has much more in common with hermeneutics (Bernstein, 1983), and more recent investigations of the history of human geography which have focused on communication between members of particular \'communities\' (e.g. Gatrell, 1984) and on the wider and intrinsically societal contexts in which this takes place (e.g. Barnes and Curry, 1983) come much closer to reclaiming the spirit of that hermeneutic tradition. (See also science, geography and.)Â (DG)
References Barnes, B. 1982: T.S. Kuhn and social science. London: Macmillan.Â Barnes, T. and Curry, M. 1983: Towards a contextualist approach to geographical knowledge. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 8: 467-82.Â Bernstein, R.J. 1983: Beyond objectivism and relativism: science, hermeneutics and praxis. Oxford: Blackwell.Â Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press.Â Billinge, M., Gregory, D. and Martin, R.L. 1984: Reconstructions. In M. Billinge, D. Gregory and R.L. Martin, eds, Recollections of a revolution: geography as spatial science. London: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin\'s Press, 1-24.Â Chorley, R.J. and Haggett, P., eds, 1967: Models in geography. London: Methuen.Â Chouinard, V., Fincher, R. and Webber, M. 1984: Empirical research in scientific human geography. Progress in Human Geography 8: 347-80.Â Gatrell, A. 1984: The geometry of a research speciality: spatial diffusion modelling. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 74: 437-53.Â Johnston, R.J. 1991: Geography and geographers: Anglo-American human geography since 1945, 5th edn. London: Edward Arnold; New York: John Wiley.Â Kuhn, T.S. 1962 and 1970: The structure of scientific revolutions, 1st and 2nd edns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Â Kuhn, T.S. 1977: The essential tension: selected studies in scientific tradition and change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Â Lakatos, I. and Musgrave, A., eds, 1970: Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â Marshall, J.D. 1982: Geography and critical rationalism. In J.D. Wood, ed., Rethinking geographical inquiry. Downsview, Ontario: Department of Geography, Atkinson College, York University, 75-171.Â Mulkay, M. 1979: Science and the sociology of knowledge. London: Allen and Unwin; Popper, K. 1959: The logic of scientific discovery. New York: Basic Books.Â Stoddart, D.R. 1967: Organism and ecosystem as geographical models. In R.J. Chorley and P. Haggett, eds, Models in geography. London: Methuen, 511-48.Â Stoddart, D.R. 1981: The paradigm concept and the history of geography. In D.R. Stoddart, ed., Geography, ideology and social concern. Oxford: Blackwell, 70-80.Â Wheeler, P.B. 1982: Revolutions, research programmes and human geography. Area 14: 1-6.
Suggested Reading Bernstein (1983), part 2; Johnston (1991), chs 1 and 7.Â Kuhn (1977), ch. 12; Mair, A. 1986: Thomas Kuhn and understanding geography. Progress in Human Geography 10: 345-70.