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Of all the controversial elements of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962/1970), the most controversial and problematic for the majority of readers are Kuhn's claims about the changes in the world that accompany scientific revolutions. Kuhn's own ambivalence about his doctrine is exemplified by the contrast between the title of Chapter X, “Revolutions as Changes of World View,” which places the changes in the minds and theories of the scientists, and the first sentence of that section, which shows the temptation to locate the change in the worlds themselves:
Examining the record of past research from the vantage of contemporary historiography, the historian of science may be tempted to exclaim that when paradigms change, the world itself changes with it.
(1970 ed., p. 111)
Kuhn describes himself as “acutely aware” of the difficulties posed by his locutions:
The same difficulties are presented in an even more fundamental form by the opening sentences of this section: though the world does not change with a change of paradigm, the scientist afterward works in a different world.
One example he discusses at some length (pun intended) is the pendulum. Heavy objects suspended by ropes or chains had existed for a long time, and certainly their occasional motions had been observed. However, for an Aristotelian this is an example of unnatural motion: The heavy body is moved by its nature toward the center of the Earth and the universe, but it is constrained by the suspension.
Questions about the nature of the appropriate data for linguistics may seem a mundane matter, but they reflect deep issues about'the nature of language and of the science of linguistics, if science it be. Consequently the methodological modifications suggested by Carden and Dieterich (1981) and Zwicky (1981) could have ramifications far beyond a slight broadening of the range of data relevant to syntactic theory. In section 1, I review the arguments for the currently standard theory against the suggestion to broaden the range of data, and in section 2. I try to give a brief historical account of the origins of the presuppositions of the orthodox theory.
The current official conception of the goal of syntactic theory is that it is to distinguish syntactically well-formed strings of a given language from those that are not syntactically well-formed, and to provide structural descriptions of the sentences.