Wittenberg, Jason, "On the Very Idea of a System Dynamics Model of Kuhnian Science", 1990

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The appearance of Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions engendered considerable discussion about the nature of scientific change. Kuhn challenges the prevailing view of science as a continuous, logical enterprise by attempting to debunk science’s myth of rationalism. As an historian as well as philosopher of science, he attempts to explain science’s extraordinary success not by developing methodological cannons divorced form scientific practice, but by looking at how scientists actually work.( Lakatos and Musgrave 1970, 236-237).Acknowledging the philosophical importance of actual scientific practice is controversial. Kuhn’s critics question both his characterization of science as mostly “puzzle –solving”, as well as his claim that such practice is necessary for scientific development. It will not be the task of this essay to rehearse these still unresolved debates. That is better left to the historians and philosophers. Rather, I would like to recognize another important contribution to the discussion, one that is orthogonal to any other that I know of. In “The Growth of Knowledge: Testing a Theory of Scientific Revolutions with a Formal Model,” John Sterman has built a model of Kuhn’s account of scientific change. He asks not whether Kuhn’s theory is dynamically consistent. He is interested in whether the behavior Kuhn describes (i.e. , paradigm emergence, normal science, crisis and revolution) actually follows logically from the assumptions Kuhn makes. To do so he constructs a system Dynamics computer model.

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