Going Native

[from Gary Cziko 951213.2340 GMT]

Below is an extract from Alan Musgrave's 1971 review of Kuhn's second
edition of _The Structure of Scientific Revolutions_.

Somehow I thought it might be relevant to the on-going discussion on EAB
vs. PCT involving Bill Powers, Bruce Abbott, and Rick Marken.--Gary

In his first ediction, Kuhn described the adoption of a new paradigm as a
"conversion experience which cannot be forced" (p. 151) and which occurs
"all at once" like the gestalt switch (p. 150). Critics took this to mean
that theory-choice was an irrational leap-of-faith, an interpretation which
Kuhn denies. But he does now say that we can be _persuaded_ to adopt a
theory without being _converted_ to it: "The two experiences are not the
same, an important distinction that I have only recently fully recognized"
(p. 203).

Kuhn derives this new subtlety from his linguistic parallel. In being
persuaded to adopt a new theory, a scientist will usually have to translate
that theory ino his own language. However: "To translate a theory or
worldview into one's own language is not to make it one's own. For that
one must go native, discover that one is thinking and working in, not
simply translating out of, a language that was previously foreign" (p.
204). Since "going native" happens all at once, and one cannot choose to
do it, it has the features of a "conversion experience". Kuhn suggests
that these conversion experiences come more easiliy to the young (thus
elaborating the adage "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"), and that
without such an experience a scientist will be unable to do effective work
even with a theory to which he might be fully persuaded. Therefore, he
claims, such experiences remain "at the heart of the revolutionary process"
(p. 204).

Musgrave, A. (1971). Kuhn's second thoughts. _Br. J. Phil. Sci._, _23_, 287-304.