Exemplar

Exemplar

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"Exemplars" directs here. For the superpowered comic book team, see Exemplars (comics).

Exemplar, in the sense developed by philosopher of science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

 Thomas Kuhn, is a well known usage of a scientific theory.

According to Kuhn, scientific practice alternates between periods of normal science
Normal science
Normal Science is a concept originated by Thomas Samuel Kuhn and elaborated in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The term refers to the routine work of scientists experimenting within a paradigm, slowly accumulating detail in accord with established broad theory, not actually challenging or...

 and extraordinary/revolutionary science. During periods of normalcy, scientists tend to subscribe to a large body of interconnecting knowledge, methods, and assumptions which make up the reigning paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

 (see paradigm shift
Paradigm shift
A Paradigm shift is, according to Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science...

 for more information on Kuhn's model). Normal science presents a series of "puzzles" that are solved as scientists explore their field. The solutions to some of these puzzles become well known and are the exemplars of the field.

Kuhn introduced the concept of exemplar in a postscript to the second edition of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an ongoing worldwide assessment and reaction in — and beyond — those scholarly...

(1970). He noted that
[b]ecause the term [paradigm] has assumed a life of its own ... I shall here substitute ‘exemplars.’ By it I mean, initially, the concrete problem-solutions that students encounter from the start of their scientific education, whether in laboratories, on examinations, or at the ends of chapters in science texts. ... All physicists, for example, begin by learning the same exemplars: problems such as the inclined plane
Inclined plane
The inclined plane is one of the original six simple machines; as the name suggests, it is a flat surface whose endpoints are at different heights. By moving an object up an inclined plane rather than completely vertical, the amount of force required is reduced, at the expense of increasing the...

, the conical pendulum
Pendulum
A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. When a pendulum is displaced from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position...

, and Keplerian orbits
Kepler's laws of planetary motion
In astronomy, Kepler's laws give a description of the motion of planets around the Sun.Kepler's laws are:#The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci....

; instruments such as the vernier
Vernier scale
A vernier scale is an additional scale which allows a distance or angle measurement to be read more precisely than directly reading a uniformly-divided straight or circular measurement scale...

, the calorimeter
Calorimeter
A calorimeter is a device used for calorimetry, the science of measuring the heat of chemical reactions or physical changes as well as heat capacity. Differential scanning calorimeters, isothermal microcalorimeters, titration calorimeters and accelerated rate calorimeters are among the most common...

, and the Wheatstone bridge
Wheatstone bridge
A Wheatstone bridge is an electrical circuit used to measure an unknown electrical resistance by balancing two legs of a bridge circuit, one leg of which includes the unknown component. Its operation is similar to the original potentiometer. It was invented by Samuel Hunter Christie in 1833 and...

.


Those who study a scientific discipline are expected to know its exemplars. There is no fixed set of exemplars, but for a physicist today it would certainly include such things as the harmonic oscillator
Harmonic oscillator
In classical mechanics, a harmonic oscillator is a system that, when displaced from its equilibrium position, experiences a restoring force, F, proportional to the displacement, x: \vec F = -k \vec x \, where k is a positive constant....

 from mechanics
Mechanics
Mechanics is the branch of physics concerned with the behavior of physical bodies when subjected to forces or displacements, and the subsequent effects of the bodies on their environment....

 and the hydrogen atom
Hydrogen atom
A hydrogen atom is an atom of the chemical element hydrogen. The electrically neutral atom contains a single positively-charged proton and a single negatively-charged electron bound to the nucleus by the Coulomb force...

 from quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

. For a biologist today the set includes the population variations of the European peppered moth
Peppered moth
The peppered moth is a temperate species of night-flying moth. Peppered moth evolution is often used by educators as an example of natural selection.- Distribution :...

 (Biston betularia) and the convergent evolution
Convergent evolution
Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages.The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Although their last common ancestor did not have wings, both birds and bats do, and are capable of powered flight. The wings are...

 of wings. They should also be familiar with ideas which have been discredited or otherwise proven false.

See also

  • Paradigm
    Paradigm
    The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

  • Paradigm shift
    Paradigm shift
    A Paradigm shift is, according to Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science...

  • Scientific consensus
    Scientific consensus
    Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity. Scientific consensus is not by itself a scientific argument, and it is not part of the...

  • Theories and sociology of the history of science
    Theories and sociology of the history of science
    The sociology and philosophy of science, as well as the entire field of science studies, have in the 20th century been occupied with the question of large-scale patterns and trends in the development of science, and asking questions about how science "works" both in a philosophical and practical...