The epistemic model by which scientific progress can be most appropriately described was the subject of debate throughout the 20th century. When Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, his theory of paradigms introduced a new way of understanding knowledge to the scientific community and beyond. Since then, and with some proposed adjustments, Kuhn’s paradigms have been widely accepted as the most plausible account of scientific knowledge and progress. This paper challenges Kuhn’s theory in favor of W.V.O. Quine’s model of scientific progress as implied by the description of epistemic holism in his 1951 essay, Two Dogmas of Empiricism. Using the theory of the expanding universe as a case study, this paper explores the durability of both Kuhn and Quine’s epistemic models. It concludes that, though both models are applicable, Quine’s is better suited to accurately describe this particular scientific episode.

NATHANIEL SUSSMAN is currently in his third year of study at Huron University College. He is enrolled in an Honors B.A. in Political Science, but also takes great interest in the discipline of Philosophy. This paper was written for a philosophy class entitled, “Science and Knowledge in the 20th Century”.