on 29 June 2011
This book is a well-written and plausible account of how pioneer scientists - such as Kepler,Galileo, Newton, Dirac, Heisenberg and Pauli - have always had to invent their own concepts without paying too much attention to philosophy. The author makes a careful and plausible distinction between classic sciences where the research strategies are settled (puzzle-solving normative science, as it were)and pioneer sciences where interpretations are needed to solve pressing problems and where ordinary concepts won't work. The last chapter of the book covering particle physics is full of complex equations whereas the rest of it is easy-to-read, if not actually easy to understand. This book overlaps much of the ground covered by the later "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (Thomas Kuhn) without sounding as contentious and without getting as involved in the social and professional disruptions entailed by "revolutions". It is harder to argue with "Patterns of Discovery" than with Kuhn's book since Hanson makes his arguments more convincingly.