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Disparaging Popper

 From a review by David Papineau, professor of the
philosophy of science at King's College, London of a book
titled, 'Karl Popper -- The Formative Years, 1902-1945' by
Malachai Haim Hacohen, 'who teaches history at Duke
University'. <Popper's standing must rest on his philosophy
of science, ... and his account of science is fundamentally
flawed. It can seem plausible to view science as a
succession of brave conjectures and honest refutations. But
few philosophers today think that this explains the worth of
science. The whole point of science is to provide a
trustworthy guide to the future, not a series of hopeful
guesses. Hacohen recommends Popper's critical rationalism
over the poststructuralist relativism that dominates so much
of the modern academy. But, behind the stylistic
differences, there is little to choose between the two
philosophies, for both deny that it is possible to identify
the truth...But where the others continued to learn, develop
and in time exert a >lasting influence on the philosophical
tradition, Popper knew better. He refused to revise his
falsificationism, and so condemned himself to a >lifetime in
the service of a bad idea

Popper believed that it was possible to know truth and that
science could find it, as far as I know.  His critique is
weird -- Popper's falsification idea was not about the
"worth" of science, but about the truth of it.  Further, in
that paper he posited both a social criterion and the more
famous falsification doctrine he is known for, in separating
science from psuedoscience.  The social criterion has been
neglected....as for a lifetime in service of a bad idea, I
think it was Giere who pointed out that Popper's view is the
one adopted by most working scientists, in _Explaining
Science_ (a good read).  But whoever posted this is correct,
it doesn't do a very good job of explaining truth criteria
in sciences which do not proceed by experiment (such as dino
science).  The difference between Popper and
poststructuralist relativism is vast, and not
merely stylistic.  Sounds like somebody was a bit jealous of
someone else's success....

Michael Turton