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Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions at FiftyReflections on a Science Classic$
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Robert J. "Richards and Lorraine Daston

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226317038

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226317175.001.0001

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Paradigms and Exemplars Meet Biomedicine

Paradigms and Exemplars Meet Biomedicine

(p.151) Eight Paradigms and Exemplars Meet Biomedicine
Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions at Fifty

Angela N. H. Creager

University of Chicago Press

This essay argues that model systems in biology function as exemplars in the sense Thomas Kuhn develops in his postscript to second edition of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, though there are distinctions. Whereas Kuhn largely emphasized the role of theory and problem-solving in terms of conceptual work, a model systems approach brings out the centrality of experimentation and analogies. Nonetheless, Kuhn’s insight that scientists solve problems by looking for similarities that are embodied in physical situations, rather than following rules or laws, pertains to much biomedical research. Examples are drawn from molecular biology, particularly on how bacteriophage and tobacco mosaic virus provided alternative models for isolating and characterizing animal viruses.

Keywords:   paradigm, exemplar, model system, Drosophila melanogaster, bacteriophage, tobacco mosaic virus, poliovirus, molecular biology

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