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Chapter 7

PHIL 2180 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Larry Laudan, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos

Course Code
PHIL 2180
Karyn Freedman

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Chapter 7: Lakatos, Laudan, Feyerabend, and Frameworks
Imre Lakatos: Main contribution;
Research Program: Similar to a paradigm Kuhn’s broad sense, but we expect more than one
research program in a scientific field.
Large-scale processes of scientific change is the competition between research programs.
Saw Kuhn’s influence on philosophy of science as destructive “mob psychology.
Believed we should write “rational reconstructions” of historical case studies.
Methodology of Scientific Research Programs:
View of the organization of science. Contains two main components:
Hard core: A set of basic ideas that are essential to the research program.
Protective Belt: Set of less fundamental ideas, used to apply the hard core to actual
Change within research programs:
First Rule: Changes should only be made to the protective belt, never the hard core.
Second Rule: Changes to the protective belt should be progressive (expanding its
application to a larger set of cases).
Degenerating: Occurs when the changes that are being made to it only cover existing
problems and does not extend. Lakatos states that it is ok to protect a research program
that is degenerating, as it may fight back.
Paul Feyerabend fights Lakatos’ theory, because Lakatos does not give a time frame for when a
scientist should give up on a theory.
Evolutionary psychology somewhat fits with Lakatos’ structure of science.
Larry Laudan: Worked out a superior version of Lakatos’ idea;
Thought Kuhn described science as an “irrational process.”
Like Lakatos, wanted to develop a view in which paradigms can coexist and compete in a field.
Called large-scale units of scientific work, “research traditions.”
Research Traditions:
Theories grouped within a “RT are more loosely related.
There can be some movement of ideas in and out of the hard core, contrary to Lakatos.
Thought that there was nothing unusual about a later theory covering less territory than
earlier ones, sometimes a retreat is necessary.
Theories can also break away from one research tradition into another.
Two kinds of attitudes to theories and research traditions;
Acceptance: Close to belief, to treat something as true.
Pursuit: Deciding to work with an idea, and exploring it. You can pursue an idea that
you do not personally accept or know to be true.
It is always rational to pursue the RT that has a high rate of progress. But, one does not
need to accept the basic ideas of the RT.
The acceptability of theories is measured by their overall level of problem-solving, not
Problem with both Lakatos and Laudan, is that they did not say, how many scientists should be
pursuing each research program or tradition? For the best of science.
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