Conclusion: Choosing Between Paradigms — A Personal View
If the arguments that underpin the design of this volume have any merit, it follows that the best of the scholarship that has emerged in comparative political economy in the last three decades has been paradigmatically anchored — using the term ‘paradigm’ in the way that Thomas Kuhn did in his pathbreaking arguments on the history of scientific thought (Kuhn 1970). Chapter 1 used the image of a stage illuminated by spotlights to establish this notion of paradigms. It visualized them as great ice-cream cones of light shining down onto the stage of contemporary reality: bringing the light of understanding to the stage of social action in exactly the way that Thomas Kuhn argued that first Copernicus and Newton, and later Einstein, did to a stage of natural phenomena that had hitherto been understood in the west largely through the paradigm of Catholic theology and Aristotelian thought. As Thomas Kuhn taught us, a well-developed paradigm — in both the social and the natural sciences — is anchored in a distinctive ontology and epistemology. It rests on a clear view of the human condition and of the kinds of knowledge of that condition that are open to the humans participating within it. A well-developed paradigm builds onto that ontological base, sets of core categories for use in analysis.
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