Changes in epistemic frameworks: Random or constrained?


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.