A Kuhnian model of falsifiability

Thomas Kuhn has argued that scientists never reject a paradigm without simultaneously accepting a new paradigm. Coupled with Kuhn's claim that it is paradigms as a whole, and not individual theories, that are accepted or rejected, this thesis is seen as one of Kuhn's main challenges to the rationality of science. I argue that Kuhn is mistaken in this claim; at least in some instances, science rejects a paradigm despite the absence of a successor. In particular, such a description best fits Kuhn's most discussed example, the Copernican Revolution. By differentiating scientific discoveries into three types, spontaneous, implicit, and directed, we see that Kuhn's thesis holds for spontaneous and implicit discoveries, but not directed discoveries. Directed discoveries must be understood by an alternative account of falsifiability, based on argument by reductio ad absurdum rather than argument by modus tollens as traditional accounts of falsifiability would have it
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/42.2.177
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