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Paradigm

James A. Anderson


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“Paradigm” refers to a fundamental set of assumptions about reality and the appropriate ways of studying it. A discipline is said to be paradigmatic when there is general agreement within it as to basic statements of fact, background knowledge, research practices, warrants for claims and evidence, and criteria for accepting new knowledge. Applied originally to natural sciences, and later extended to all forms of scholarship, the concept of paradigm is directly traceable to Thomas Kuhn's (1962) The structure of scientific revolutions . That book was part of a sociology of science movement that went on to include Berger and Luckmann's The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge (1966) and Latour and Woolgar's (1979) Laboratory life: The social construction of scientific facts (→  Constructivism ). In Kuhn's formulation, a paradigm was first an achievement by a scientist or group of scientists that was both extraordinary and anticipated, and then sufficiently open-ended that it attracted other scientists and provided for their work. Watson and Crick's double-spiral helix model of DNA is a good example of a paradigmatic achievement. It organized scientific thinking and practice in the field of genetics and certainly has provided work for geneticists for more than 50 years. Initially a proposed solution, it has become the received view (or ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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