Here it goes again, simple Popper evolving into Kuhn et al

The Guardian online has been running articles written by Liz Williams on Karl Popper. I added comments to these including the latest which is titled “Karl Popper, the enemy of certainty, part 4: Lakatos, Kuhn and Feyerabend
This diverse trio drove the philosophy of science forwards with their responses to Popper’s theory of falsification”.

My comment is:

It is very unfortunate that the history of this section of twentieth century postwar philosophy has been written in the standardised way of some sort of intellectual evolution from a primitive Karl Popper to more sophisticated Kuhn, Lakatos and then the anarchist Feyerabend. It is a pity for the generations of students who have been presented with such pop tunes while not being encouraged to analyse the complex symphony that Popper was constructing. Popper’s Metaphysical Research Programs, which were the seed for Lakatos publishings, were formulated in the mid 1950′s and the drafts were held by Lakatos. Lakatos published Proofs and Refutations in 1970 and Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962. Popper delayed publication of the Postscript, which contained his Metaphysical Research Programs concept until the 1980s. What is clear is that Popper lost the marketing war.

It would be intellectually beneficial to cease and desist from propagating the fantasy that Popper was a naive falsificationist. It makes it easier to write a structured history by propagating this flotsam and unfortunately the barnacles of many published careers have grown upon it.

It should be recognised that there were 4 stages or turns to Popper’s symphony. These have been outlined succinctly by the Australian writer, Rafe Champion as follows:

The question that has to be asked about recent books on the philosophy of science is: Does this book explain the four turns that Karl Popper introduced? These are

(1) the conjectural turn, to explain that even our best scientific theories may be false,

(2) the objective turn to focus on scientific knowledge in its public or objective form, rather than subjective beliefs,

(3) the social turn to be aware that the scientist works in a community and there is a need for conventions or rules of the game to maintain standards of criticism and best practice

(4) the rehabilitation of metaphysics, in defiance of the positivists and logical empiricists, in the form of metaphysical research programs.

The best brief encyclopedic entry I have read on Popper is in the Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It is written by Ian C. Jarvie. Stephen Thorntons entry in the online Stanford Encycopedia of Philosophy finishes very badly, again, good foundations for barnacles.

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