Analogy of Normal Science and Law
Many might feel that once a paradigm has been established, what can be the work that would be done by the group of believers of the paradigm or theory.
In case of science, acceptance or success of a paradigm is not because it has successfully solved all problems it was trying to solve, but because it has the potential of solving those problems. In a sense, the paradigm is not ‘Final’, it gives a series of predictions that need to be proved by further work. Every such confirmatory ‘mop-up’ work, in turn also leads to further articulation/refinement of the paradigm itself. And it is this ‘mop-up’ work that majority of scientist engage them into.
Furthermore, the presence of a paradigm alters the process of science. What can be called as normal science, is the effort of trying to prove the paradigm, this effort, in turn, narrows the focus of science to a very small detail of an esoteric problem, which in turn means an in-depth investigation of an area of nature which otherwise might not have been explored
A good example would be the efforts for proving the Higg’s Boson, led to focus on things like colliders, sub-atomic particles, in detail, which may be no one would have looked at in absence of the paradigm.
Thus the relation between paradigm and scientific investigation is paramount because after all, a scientist has limited resources at their disposal, hence providing focus to these resources is crucial
In such a scenario, the focus of scientific research can be classified into three broad categories. First is the work that is undertaken towards facts that a paradigm has shown to be particularly revealing about the nature of things and there is a great incentive in determining them with greater precision.
An example would be of electrical properties of semiconducting materials, there is a huge incentive in determining these properties precisely as a small improvement in the measurement gives great yields in the long run in applications like microprocessors.
In the past, there have been scientists like Tycho Brahe, E.O Lawrence, who were famous not for making new discoveries but for being pioneers in precise and reliable measurements of previously known facts.
The second area of focus for factual determination is for facts that can be directly compared to predictions of the theory. Such an activity has very less intrinsic value and hence is a much smaller class. For example, Atwood’s machine was invented as a demonstration of Newton’s second law.
The third area and probably the most important is the empirical work undertaken to articulate the theory. For example, Newton’s gravity law expressed that there is a force of attraction between two unit masses at a distance, however, the size or value of this attraction was not easily determined until a century later. It was the work of several experiments that were needed to calculate what is today known as the Gravitational constant.
Similarly the theory that Gas is basically an elastic fluid led to the Boyle’s law eventually.
These third sorts of experiments result in articulating the theory.
Thus, in conclusion, we can say, what we call a paradigm is primarily a concept when it is initially established it deals with qualitative aspects of nature. An analogy would be establishing of the concept of human rights and freedoms in law, like American Declaration of Independence or French Revolution, were paradigms.
But just as the law needed interpretation and application resulting in abolishing slavery, the scientific paradigm also needs articulation, through various experiments. This experimentation deals with quantitative aspects of the paradigm, like the Gravitational constant, and When it is articulated in this sense, it in a way becomes more useful.