[OPE-L:4167] Who agrees with Popper?

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Thu Oct 19 2000 - 16:11:54 EDT

It's annoying to have to put in a good word for this vastly-over-rated (not
least by himself) thinker -- but falsifiability is *quite* a good idea as a
test of whether a set of notions is, so to speak, advanced in good faith.
(And his anecdote against Adler, which he uses to illustrate his
disillusionment with confirmationism, is certainly both funny and

It's just a pity that it's logically disabled as a prescription for practice
(the Duhem-Quine problem); moreover Popper should have known this (since
Duhem preceded him by two or three decades) and the fact that he doesn't
deal with this objection is evidence of either ignorance or deception.

I note that Nicky (hi -- good to hear from you again) asks for justification
of the claim that falsifiability is the *only* criterion for scientificity;
this would certainly be a hard claim to justify, and even Popper never
claimed this about his stock-in-trade.

In fact, I seem to recall that he went to some lengths to point out the
curious and unfortunate consequence of the falsifiability criterion that
preposterous theories (e.g. "the moon is made of green cheese") are -- being
highly falsifiable -- highly scientific.

In his #4166 Jerry questions the usefulness of what he describes as "the
empiricist method" in comprehending capitalism: to try and nip in the bud
any discussion at cross-purposes, could Jerry clarify whether he means
"empiricist" or "empirical"?

Id' certainly agree with him about the former; if the latter, I think I'd
want to say that empirical investigation helps us to check whether our
would-be comprehension of capitalism is actually engaging with the reality
of it.


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