Popper Re-appraised : New Perspectives on Karl Popper’s Method and its Applications
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This thesis takes a twofold approach to Popper’s work. First, it observes the thematic changes in his work over the course of his life. Second, it analyses the methods used by Popper in articulating his arguments and observes how those arguments relate to his methodological prohibitions. It will be argued in the thesis that Popper’s methodological thought was shaped by his ambition to deal with theories that did not fit into his previously prescribed limits for science. The practical need to create reasonable arguments that were both critical and rational in The Poverty of Historicism (1957) and The Open Society (1945) would force a change of stance in his attitude towards “transcendental criticism” and its procedural role in the process of expanding the horizon of what a critical rationalist can argue. Popper expanded the scope of what can be rationally argued by experimenting with different ways of rationally treating hypotheses that were clearly irrefutable. At the same time he was adamant that his theory of falsification should never be abandoned. This theory was used throughout his career to navigate his many theories through his use of non-falsifiable concepts, exemplified by his late ontological writings. It is this tension in the relationship between his theorisation of the method of falsification and his non-falsifiable arguments in ontology and political philosophy that gave Popper’s thought such a distinctive quality. In tracing that relationship, this thesis will contribute to the ongoing task of interpreting Popper’s philosophical, political and moral thought. It will do so by drawing on his published texts and unpublished letters and writings to emphasise the continuity of his thought.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Humanities
Item Access Status
Popper, Karl Raimund, 1902-1994.
Theory of falsification