A Tale of Three Theories: Feyerabend and Popper on Progress and the Aim of Science

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 51:33-41 (2015)
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In this paper, three theories of progress and the aim of science are discussed: the theory of progress as increasing explanatory power, advocated by Popper in The logic of scientific discovery ; the theory of progress as approximation to the truth, introduced by Popper in Conjectures and refutations ; the theory of progress as a steady increase of competing alternatives, which Feyerabend put forward in the essay “Reply to criticism. Comments on Smart, Sellars and Putnam” and defended as late as the last edition of Against method. It is argued that, contrary to what Feyerabend scholars have predominantly assumed, Feyerabend's changing attitude towards falsificationism—which he often advocated at the beginning of his career, and vociferously attacked in the 1970s and 1980s—must be explained by taking into account not only Feyerabend's very peculiar view of the aim of science, but also Popper's changing account of progress.

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Luca Tambolo
Università degli Studi di Trieste (PhD)

Citations of this work

The Eclipse of Value-Free Economics. The concept of multiple self versus homo economicus.Aleksander Ostapiuk - 2020 - Wrocław, Polska: Publishing House of Wroclaw University of Economics and Business.
Paul Feyerabend.John Preston - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Conjectures and Refutations.K. Popper - 1963 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 21 (3):431-434.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.K. Popper - 1959 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10 (37):55-57.
The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.
Objective Knowledge.K. R. Popper - 1972 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 4 (2):388-398.

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