Criticism and dogmatism in science : striking the balance

Document Type


Source Publication

Research Seminar 2011, University of Hong Kong

Publication Date



Philosophy Department, University of Hong Kong


Popper repeatedly emphasized 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?’

In this talk, Rowbottom would show why this is the crucial question, and also strive to make some new headway in answering it.



Recommended Citation

Rowbottom, D. (2011, September). Criticism and dogmatism in science: Striking the balance. Paper presented at the Research Seminar 2011, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

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