Paradigm change in evolutionary microbiology

Thomas Kuhn had little to say about scientific change in biological science, and biologists are ambivalent about how applicable his framework is for their disciplines. We apply Kuhn’s account of paradigm change to evolutionary microbiology, where key Darwinian tenets are being challenged by two decades of findings from molecular phylogenetics. The chief culprit is lateral gene transfer, which undermines the role of vertical descent and the representation of evolutionary history as a tree of life. To assess Kuhn’s relevance to this controversy, we add a social analysis of the scientists involved to the historical and philosophical debates. We conclude that while Kuhn’s account may capture aspects of the pattern of an episode of scientific change, he has little to say about how the process of generating new understandings is occurring in evolutionary microbiology. Once Kuhn’s application is limited to that of an initial investigative probe into how scientific problem-solving occurs, his disciplinary scope becomes broader
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2004.12.002
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References found in this work BETA
Barry Barnes (2003). Thomas Kuhn and the Problem of Social Order in Science. In Thomas Nickles (ed.), Thomas Kuhn. Cambridge University Press 122.
Thomas S. Kuhn (1982). Commensurability, Comparability, Communicability. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:669 - 688.
Thomas S. Kuhn (1993). Afterwords. In Paul Horwich (ed.), Educational Theory. MIT Press 311--41.
Howard Sankey (1993). Kuhn's Changing Concept of Incommensurability. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (4):759-774.

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Citations of this work BETA
Maureen A. O’Malley (2013). When Integration Fails: Prokaryote Phylogeny and the Tree of Life. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):551-562.
Edna Suárez-Díaz (2009). Molecular Evolution: Concepts and the Origin of Disciplines. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 40 (1):43-53.

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Stuart A. Newman (2012). What's New. Philosophy and Theory in Biology 4 (20130604).
John Rader Platt (1970). Perception and Change. Ann Arbor,University of Michigan Press.

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