Johnson’s Models of Science

Prompt Question(s): In the middle of Chapter 1, Johnson presents three different models in the history of science: progressive (“great man”) history; paradigm shift (Kuhnian) history; and ecosystem theory. Describe each method in your own words, what types of actors or forces do each model take in account? How does each method try to explain historical change?

Ecosystem Theory: The idea that we live in an inter-connected web of life and energy and other forces. We exist because all of these other organisms are creating an atmosphere that we’re able to thrive in. It’s incumbent of us to recognize this connection and to preserve it.

Progressive (“Great Man”) History: The idea that history can be largely explained by the impact of influential individuals (usually men) who, due to their own characteristic variables like wisdom, courage, or leadership, have had a decisive historical effect.

Paradigm Shift (Kuhnian) History: The idea that science has a paradigm which remains constant before going through a paradigm shift when current theories can’t explain something, and someone proposes a new theory. This cycle is generally what gets us into scientific revolutions like the The Great Awakening and Enlightenment era, as scientists are now in crisis mode and question just about everything.

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