On Popper’s Philosophy of Social Science
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Is it possible to have a non-trivial theory of scientific method — that is, a fairly detailed and comprehensive theory of the best way(s) to try to increase and improve our knowledge? It is possible to have a unified theory which would apply both to physical science and social science, and perhaps even to technological innovation as well?
If we could find such a theory of the scientific process, how would it have to be modified if we were to decide that our aim were not just ultimately to understand the would (i.e., to find well-tested explanatory theories of high empirical content) but also continually to change the world — to improve the human condition?
KeywordsPhysical Science Unintended Consequence Scientific Explanation Empirical Content Methodological Individualism
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- 1.See especially Paul K. Feyerabend, ‘Against Method’, in Analysis of Theories and Methods of Physics and Psychology (ed. by M. Radner and S. Winokur), Vol. IV, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science (ed. by H. Feigl and G. Maxwell), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1970.Google Scholar
- 1a.See especially Paul K. Feyerabend, ‘Against Method’, in Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science (ed. by H. Feigl and G. Maxwell), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1970.Google Scholar
- 2.See especially: Joseph Agassi, ‘The Nature of Scientific Problems and Their Roots in Metaphysics’, in The Critical Approach to Science and Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Karl R. Popper (ed. by Mario Bunge), Free Press, New York, 1964.Google Scholar
- Paul K. Feyerabend, ‘Problems of Empiricism, Part II’, in The Nature and Function of Scientific Theories (ed. by R. G. Colodny), University of Pittsburgh Series in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. IV, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1970.Google Scholar
- Noretta Koertge, ‘Inter-Theoretic Criticism and the Growth of Science’, in Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. VIII (ed. by R. C. Buck and R. S. Cohen), Reidel, Dordrecht, 1971.Google Scholar
- Imre Lakatos, ‘Falsification and the Methodology of Research Programmes’, in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (ed. by I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave), Cambridge University Press, London, 1970.Google Scholar
- 5.Feyerabend, ‘Against Method’, op. cit.>, p. 76.Google Scholar
- 6.Ibid.>, p. 105.Google Scholar
- 7.Ibid.>, p. 116.Google Scholar
- 10.J. W. N. Watkins, ‘Methodological Individualism and Social Tendencies’, in Readings in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (ed. by May Brodbeck), Macmillan, New York, 1968, pp. 269–280.Google Scholar
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- 12.Reprinted in Karl R. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1963, p. 124.Google Scholar
- 13.Poverty of Historicism, p. 66.Google Scholar
- 14.Popper, ‘La Rationalité’, loc. cit.>, p. 145.Google Scholar
- 15.For a full account of explanations using the Rationality Principle, see J. W. N. Watkins, ‘Imperfect Rationality’, in Explanation in the Behaviorial Sciences (ed. by R. Borger and F. Cioffi), Cambridge University Press, London, 1970, p. 173.Google Scholar