Paradigms for Language Theory and Other Essays pp 107-123 ..

The predictive coding (PC) paradigm has attracted a lot ofattention. There is ample evidence that PC models capture essentialdetails of visual function in the mammalian brain (Rao and Ballard,1999; Huang and Rao, 2011). For example, when trained on typicalvisual input, PC models spontaneously develop functional areas foredge, orientation and motion detection known to exist in visualcortex. This work also raises the interesting point that the visualarchitecture may develop in response to the statistics of the scenesbeing encountered, so that organisms in different environments havevisual systems specially tuned to their needs.

In: Paradigms for Language Theory and Other Essays.

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Kuhn's influence outside of professional philosophy of science mayhave been even greater than it was within it. The social sciences inparticular took up Kuhn with enthusiasm. There are primarily tworeasons for this. First, Kuhn's picture of science appeared to permita more liberal conception of what science is than hitherto, one thatcould be taken to include disciplines such as sociology andpsychoanalysis. Secondly, Kuhn's rejection of rules as determiningscientific outcomes appeared to permit appeal to other factors,external to science, in explaining why a scientific revolution tookthe course that it did.

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Of course, the referentialist response shows only that referencecan be retained, not that it must be. Consequently it is only apartial defence of realism against semantic incommensurability. Afurther component of the defence of realism against incommensurabilitymust be an epistemic one. For referentialism shows that a term canretain reference and hence that the relevant theories may be such thatthe later constitutes a better approximation to the truth than theearlier. Nonetheless it may not be possible for philosophers orothers to know that there has been such progress. Methodologicalincommensurability in particular seems to threaten the possibility ofthis knowledge. Kuhn thinks that in order to be in a position tocompare theories from older and more recent periods of normal scienceone needs a perspective external to each and indeed any era ofscience–what he calls an ‘Archimedean platform’(1992, 14). However, we never are able to escape from our currentperspective. A realist response to this kind of incommensurability mayappeal to externalist or naturalized epistemology. These (related)approaches reject the idea that for a method to yield knowledge itmust be independent of any particular theory, perspective, orhistorical/cognitive circumstance. So long as the method has anappropriate kind of reliability it can generate knowledge. Contraryto the internalist view characteristic of the positivists (and, itappears, shared by Kuhn) the reliability of a method does not need tobe one that must be evaluable independently of any particularscientific perspective. It is not the case, for example, that thereliability of a method used in science must be justifiable by apriori means. Thus the methods developed in one era may indeedgenerate knowledge, including knowledge that some previous era gotcertain matters wrong, or right but only to a certain degree. Anaturalized epistemology may add that science itself is in thebusiness of investigating and developing methods. As science developswe would expect its methods to change and develop also.

APA Citation. Hintikka, J. (1997). Paradigms for language theory and other essays. Dordrecht ; Boston: Kluwer Academic. Chicago Style Citation

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The most interesting response to crisis will be the search for arevised disciplinary matrix, a revision that will allow for theelimination of at least the most pressing anomalies and optimally thesolution of many outstanding, unsolved puzzles. Such a revisionwill be a scientific revolution. According to Popper the revolutionaryoverthrow of a theory is one that is logically required by ananomaly. According to Kuhn however, there are no rules for decidingthe significance of a puzzle and for weighing puzzles and theirsolutions against one another. The decision to opt for a revision of adisciplinary matrix is not one that is rationally compelled; nor isthe particular choice of revision rationally compelled. For thisreason the revolutionary phase is particularly open to competitionamong differing ideas and rational disagreement about their relativemerits. Kuhn does briefly mention that extra-scientific factors mighthelp decide the outcome of a scientific revolution—thenationalities and personalities of leading protagonists, for example(1962/1970a, 152–3). This suggestion grew in the hands of somesociologists and historians of science into the thesis that theoutcome of a scientific revolution, indeed of any step in thedevelopment of science, is always determined by socio-politicalfactors. Kuhn himself repudiated such ideas and his work makes itclear that the factors determining the outcome of a scientificdispute, particularly in modern science, are almost always to be foundwithin science, specifically in connexion with the puzzle-solvingpower of the competing ideas.

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This picture has been questioned for its accuracy. Stephen Toulmin(1970) argues that a more realistic picture shows that revisionarychanges in science are far more common and correspondingly lessdramatic than Kuhn supposes, and that perfectly ‘normal’science experiences these changes also. Kuhn could reply that suchrevisions are not revisions to the paradigm but to the non-paradigmpuzzle-solutions provided by normal science. But that in turnrequires a clear distinction between paradigmatic and non-paradigmaticcomponents of science, a distinction that, arguably, Kuhn has notsupplied in any detail.

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More important for Kuhn was the way his account of the context ofjustification diverged from the standard picture. The functioning ofexemplars is intended explicitly to contrast with the operation ofrules. The key determinant in the acceptability of a proposedpuzzle-solution is its similarity to the paradigmaticpuzzle-solutions. Perception of similarity cannot be reduced to rules,and a fortiori cannot be reduced to rules of rationality. Thisrejection of rules of rationality was one of the factors that ledKuhn's critics to accuse him of irrationalism—regarding scienceas irrational. In this respect at least the accusation is wide of themark. For to deny that some cognitive process is the outcome ofapplying rules of rationality is not to imply that it is an irrationalprocess: the perception of similarity in appearance between twomembers of the same family also cannot be reduced to the applicationof rules of rationality. Kuhn's innovation in The Structure ofScientific Revolutions was to suggest that a key element incognition in science operates in the same fashion.