Kuhn vs. Popper on criticism and dogmatism in science : a resolution at the group level

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Popper repeatedly emphasised the significance of a critical attitude, and a related critical method, for scientists. Kuhn, however, thought that unquestioning adherence to the theories of the day is proper; at least for ‘normal scientists’. In short, the former thought that dominant theories should be attacked, whereas the latter thought that they should be developed and defended (for the vast majority of the time). Both seem to have missed a trick, however, due to their apparent insistence that each individual scientist should fulfil similar functions (at any given point in time). The trick is to consider science at the group level; and doing so shows how puzzle solving and ‘offensive’ critical activity can simultaneously have a legitimate place in science. This analysis shifts the focus of the debate. The crucial question becomes ‘How should the balance between functions be struck?’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The earlier versions of the paper are presented at the Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford, 2008, and Ockham Society, University of Oxford, February 2009.


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  • Karl Popper

    ROWBOTTOM, D. P., 24 Apr 2019, Oxford Bibliographies Online. PRITCHARD, D. (ed.). Oxford University Press

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