Synchronism vs. Asynchronism of Method Employment

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Which factors influence the process of method employment? Do new methods become accepted simultaneously with the acceptance of a theory?

This question is important to the scientonomic community because it aims to describe how a new method comes to be employed by a given community. It seeks to answer whether or not method employment necessarily depends upon theory acceptance and whether or not there exist instances in which the employment of a method might not follow the acceptance of a new theory.

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Hakob Barseghyan in 2015. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015) is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available theory on the subject. Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015) states "The employment of new methods can be but is not necessarily a result of the acceptance of new theories."


The prehistory concerning synchronism versus asynchronism of method employment is rooted in a debate between Thomas Kuhn and Larry Laudan, in which the former promoted the idea of synchronism and the latter asynchronism. For Kuhn, science changes in phases, the first of which is normal science.1 The Kuhnian normal science is marked by a consensus on the aspects of science that constitute a paradigm: concepts used in communication, the meaningfulness and relevance of some problems to research, and model solutions to research problems. Kuhn’s later formulation of a paradigm, a disciplinary matrix, includes laws, beliefs about the existence of objects/phenomena, values concerning research evaluation, and exemplary problems. Normal science is further characterized by an expectation that solutions will agree with problems previously researched. However, sometimes anomalies emerge with which this agreement does not obtain. When anomalies are serious they can put pressure on the reigning paradigm. Serious anomalies eventually give way to a crisis in the paradigm, which calls for the modification or a revolutionary abandonment of the paradigm. Anomalies that strike at the foundation of the paradigm are often solved by new theories which, if accepted, culminate in a new consensus within the scientific community. This is known as a revolution. The new consensus among the community is not a cumulative progression from the old consensus; rather, the two paradigms are incommensurable with respect to the set of problems, the approaches to those problems, conceptual changes, and the world of the community’s research.

Kuhn’s notion of incommensurability first tabled the discussion of the synchronism or asynchronism of method employment. According to Thomas Nickles, the incommensurability of Kuhnian revolutions involves a wholesale change in goals as well as methodological standards and values.2 Thus, in Kuhn’s system method employment necessarily depends upon theory acceptance, from which it follows that methods and theories change synchronously.3p. 151

Laudan challenged this Kuhnian idea of wholesale change.1 For him, research is conducted within the historical tradition of its given domain.4 Traditions are comprised of general assumptions about entities and processes. Problem solving, usually concerning anomalies, drives scientific change. Unlike Kuhn, Laudan holds that anomalies can be addressed by methodological or ontological changes instead of theory modifications.1

Contrary to Kuhn, for whom “change is simultaneous rather than sequential”,5p. 69 Laudan regards method employment as separable from theory acceptance. In his view, methodological dicta can change without any new theories being accepted.5p. 74 A paradigm shift is not necessary for methods to change.5p. 81 Consequently, methods and theories can change be asynchronous.


Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this question (it includes all the instances when the question was accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by a community):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy2 November 2016This is when the community accepted its first answer to the question, Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015), which indicates that the question is itself legitimate.Yes

All Theories

The following theories have attempted to answer this question:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015)The employment of new methods can be but is not necessarily a result of the acceptance of new theories.2015
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Accepted Theories

The following theories have been accepted as answers to this question:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyAsynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015)1 January 2016

Suggested Modifications

According to our records, there have been no suggested modifications on this topic.

Current View

In Scientonomy community, the accepted theory on the subject is Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015). It states: "The employment of new methods can be but is not necessarily a result of the acceptance of new theories."

Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015).png

The theorem states that the employment of a method is not necessarily simultaneous with the acceptance of a new theory. Being a direct logical consequence of the third law, the theorem highlights the fact that some methods are a result of the implementation of some abstract requirements of other methods. In this way, a new method can be devised as a means of resolving a particular creative gap, and subsequently become employed long after the acceptance of the theory that led to the employment of the abstract method. Read More

Mirka Loiselle challenged the asynchronism of method employment theorem during the seminar of 2016. According to Mirka, the employment of a method is simultaneous to the acceptance of a proposition stating that the method is effective. Whether or not this poses a challenge to the theorem remains an open question.

Related Topics

This topic is a sub-topic of Mechanism of Method Employment.


  1. a b c  Andersen, Hanne and Hepburn, Brian. (2015) Scientific Method. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from
  2. ^  Nickles, Thomas. (2017) Scientific Revolutions. In Zalta (Ed.) (2017). Retrieved from
  3. ^  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.
  4. ^  Laudan, Larry. (1977) Progress and Its Problems. University of California Press.
  5. a b c  Laudan, Larry. (1984) Science and Values. University of California Press.