SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.77 número2A post-Jungian perspective on the psychological development of Afrikaner cultural identityThe capability of national education systems to address ethnic diversity índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
Home Pagelista alfabética de periódicos  

Serviços Personalizados



Links relacionados

  • Em processo de indexaçãoCitado por Google
  • Em processo de indexaçãoSimilares em Google



versão On-line ISSN 2304-8557
versão impressa ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.77 no.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.



Bernstein, R., 1985, Beyond objectivism and relativism: Science hermeneutics and praxis, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.         [ Links ]

Coletto, R., 2007, 'The legitimacy crisis in late-modern philosophy of science: Towards a reformational response', PhD thesis, North-West University, Potchefstroom.         [ Links ]

Coletto, R., 2011, 'Science and non-science: The search for a demarcation criterion in the 20th century', Tydskrif vir Christelike Wetenskap 47(1), 63-79.         [ Links ]

Dooyeweerd, H., 1979, Roots of western culture: Pagan, secular and christian options, Wedge, Toronto.         [ Links ]

Dooyeweerd, H., 1980, In the twilight of western thought, The Craig Press, Nutley.         [ Links ]

Feyerabend, P.K., 1970, 'Consolations for the specialist', in I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge, pp. 197-230, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Feyerabend, P.K., 1975, Against method: Outline of an anarchistic theory of knowledge, New Left Books, London.         [ Links ]

Feyerabend, P.K., 1985, Realism, rationalism and scientific method - Philosophical Papers, vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Habermas, J., 1976, Legitimation crisis, Heinemann, London.         [ Links ]

Hart, H., 1984, Understanding our world: An integral ontology, University Press of America, Lanham.         [ Links ]

Holton, G., 1973, Thematic origins of scientific thought, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Holton, G., 1978, The scientific imagination: Case studies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Kuhn, T.S., 1970a, The structure of scientific revolutions, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.         [ Links ]

Kuhn, T.S., 1970b, 'Reflections on my critics', in I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge, pp. 231-277, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Kuhn, T.S., 1970c, Logic of discovery or psychology of research?', in I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge, pp. 1-23, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Lakatos, I., 1970, 'Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programmes', in I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge, pp. 91-196, Cambridge University, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Lakatos, I., 1978, 'History of science and its rational reconstructions', in J. Worrall & G. Currie (eds.), The methodology of scientific research programmes: Philosophical papers, vol. 1, pp. 102-138, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.        [ Links ]

Loubser, R.A., in press (a), 'Tracing some consensus on the nature of pre-scientific frameworks in philosophy of science', Acta Academica. (To be published.         [ Links ])

Loubser, R.A., in press (b), 'An ontological exploration of change and constancy', Tydskrif vir Christelike Wetenskap. (To be published.         [ Links ])

Lyotard, J.-F., 1984, The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge, Manchester University Press, Manchester.         [ Links ]

Popper, K.R., 1961, The poverty of historicism, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.         [ Links ]

Popper, K.R., 1963, Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.         [ Links ]

Popper, K.R. 1970, 'Normal science and its dangers', in I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge, pp. 51-58, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Popper, K.R., 1979, Objective knowledge: An evolutionary approach, Clarendon Press, Oxford.         [ Links ]

Popper, K.R., 1996, The myth of the framework: In defence of science and rationality, Routledge, London.         [ Links ]

Rorty, R., 1990, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Stafleu, M.D., 1979, 'The isolation of a field of science', Philosophia Reformata 44(1), 15-27.         [ Links ]

Stafleu, M.D., 1980, Time and again: A systematic analysis of the foundations of physics, Sacum Beperk, Bloemfontein.         [ Links ]

Stafleu, M.D., 1987, Theories at work: On the structure and functioning of theories in science, in particular during the copernican revolution, University Press of America, Lanham.         [ Links ]

Strauss, D.F.M., 2005, 'Relativity and relativism: Historical and systematic considerations', Acta Academica 37(2), 199-231.         [ Links ]

Strauss, D.F.M., 2009, Philosophy: Discipline of the disciplines, Paideia Press, Grand Rapids.         [ Links ]

Suppe, F., 1974, The structure of scientific theories, University of Illinois Press, Urbana.         [ Links ]

Van der Walt, B.J., 2008, The eye is the lamp of the body: Worldviews and their impact, The Institute for Contemporary Christianity in Africa, Potchefstroom.         [ Links ]

Van Riessen, H., 1992, 'Science in the light of the relation between thinking and believing', Tydskrif vir Christelike Wetenskap 28(1), 27-95.         [ Links ]

Visagie, J., 1996, A theory of macromotives, Koers 61(2), 129-151.         [ Links ]

Vollenhoven, D.H.Th., 2005, De probleemhistorische metode en de geschiedenis van de wijsbegeerte, De Zaak Haes, Amstelveen.         [ Links ]



Ananka Loubser
Private Bag X6001
Potchefstroom 2520
South Africa

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

Creative Commons License Todo o conteúdo deste periódico, exceto onde está identificado, está licenciado sob uma Licença Creative Commons