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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.77 n.2 Pretoria  2012




Changes in epistemic frameworks: Random or constrained?


Verandering in epistemiese raamwerke: Willekeurig of beperk?



Ananka Loubser

School of Philosophy, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa





Since the emergence of a solid anti-positivist approach in the philosophy of science, an important question has been to understand how and why epistemic frameworks change in time, are modified or even substituted. In contemporary philosophy of science three main approaches to framework-change were detected in the humanist tradition:
1. In both the pre-theoretical and theoretical domains changes occur according to a rather constrained, predictable or even pre-determined pattern (e.g. Holton).
2. Changes occur in a way that is more random or unpredictable and free from constraints (e.g. Kuhn, Feyerabend, Rorty, Lyotard).
3. Between these approaches, a middle position can be found, attempting some kind of synthesis (e.g. Popper, Lakatos).
Because this situation calls for clarification and systematisation, this article in fact tried to achieve more clarity on how changes in pre-scientific frameworks occur, as well as provided transcendental criticism of the above positions. This article suggested that the above-mentioned positions are not fully satisfactory, as change and constancy are not sufficiently integrated. An alternative model was suggested in which changes in epistemic frameworks occur according to a pattern, neither completely random nor rigidly constrained, which results in change being dynamic but not arbitrary. This alternative model is integral, rather than dialectical and therefore does not correspond to position three.


Sedert die eerste verskyning van 'n soliede anti-positivistiese benadering in wetenskapsfilosofie, is 'n belangrike vraag hoe en waarom epistemiese raamwerke oor tyd verander, gewysig of selfs gesubstitueer word. In kontemporêre wetenskapsfilosofie kan drie hoof benaderings tot raamwerk-verandering in die humanistiese tradisie bespeur word:
1. In beide pre-teoretiese en teoretiese domeine vind verandering plaas volgens 'n taamlike beperkte, voorspelbare of selfs voorafbepaalde patroon (bv. Holton).
2. Verandering vind plaas op 'n wyse wat meer willekeurig of onvoorspelbaar en sonder beperkings is (bv. Kuhn, Feyerabend, Rorty, Lyotard).
3. Tussen hierdie benaderings kan 'n middel posisie aangetref word, wat 'n tipe sintese probeer handhaaf (bv. Popper, Lakatos).
Hierdie situasie noodsaak verduideliking en sistematisering en die artikel het dan gepoog om meer duidelikheid te bied oor hoe verandering in pre-wetenskaplike raamwerke plaasvind. Verder is transendentale kritiek van die bogenoemde benaderings in die artikel aangebied. Die artikel het voorgestel dat die bogenoemde benaderings nie volledig bevredigend is nie, aangesien verandering en konstantheid nie tot 'n voldoende mate geïntegreer is nie. 'n Alternatiewe model is voorgestel waarin verandering in epistemiese raamwerke plaasvind volgens 'n patroon wat nie heeltemal willekeurig of beperk is nie, sodat verandering dinamies is, maar nie arbitrêr nie. Laasgenoemde posisie is integraal, eerder as dialekties en stem dus nie met posisie drie ooreen nie.



Full text available only in PDF format.



Competing interests

The author declares that she has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced her in writing this article.



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Ananka Loubser
Private Bag X6001
Potchefstroom 2520
South Africa

Received: 24 Jan. 2012
Accepted: 10 Sept. 2012
Published: 14 Dec. 2012

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