Philosophy of Science, Network Theory, and Conceptual Change: Paradigm Shifts as Information Cascades

In Euel Elliot & L. Douglas Kiel (eds.), Complex Systems in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: Theory, Method, and Application. University of Michigan Press (forthcoming)
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Philosophers have long tried to understand scientific change in terms of a dynamics of revision within ‘theoretical frameworks,’ ‘disciplinary matrices,’ ‘scientific paradigms’ or ‘conceptual schemes.’ No-one, however, has made clear precisely how one might model such a conceptual scheme, nor what form change dynamics within such a structure could be expected to take. In this paper we take some first steps in applying network theory to the issue, modeling conceptual schemes as simple networks and the dynamics of change as cascades on those networks. The results allow a new understanding of two traditional approaches—Popper and Kuhn—as well as introducing the intriguing prospect of viewing scientific change using the metaphor of selforganizing criticality.



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Patrick Grim
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Harvard University Press.
From a Logical Point of View.W. V. O. Quine - 1953 - Harvard University Press.
Conjectures and Refutations.K. Popper - 1963 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 21 (3):431-434.
The Web of Belief.W. V. Quine & J. S. Ullian - 1970 - New York: Random House.

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