Popper's evolutionary epistemology revamped

In a paper entitled “Revolution in Permanence”, published in the collection “Karl Popper: Philosophy and Problems”, John Worrall (1995) severely criticised several aspects of Karl Popper’s work before commenting that “I have no doubt that, given suffi-cient motivation, a case could be constructed on the basis of such remarks that Popper had a more sophisticated version of theory production......” (p. 102). Part of Worrall’s criticism is directed at a “strawpopper”: in his “Darwinian Model” emphasising the similarities and differences between genetic mutation, variation in animal behaviour and the gestation of scientific theories, Popper (1975, 1981, 1994) never stated that tentative scientific conjec-tures “while more or less random, are not completely blind.” He was referring to variation in animal species behaviour, and about tentative scientific conjectures he said nothing, although common sense would indicate that presumably he regarded them as being less blind and less random. In Popper (1977, 1983), giving a summary of his “Darwinian Model”, he repaired this omission about tentative scientific conjectures by inserting the sentence “On a level of World 3 theory formation they are of the character of planned gropings into the unknown.” Recent developments in the field of genetics (see for example Raff (1996), Lewis (1999), Korn (2002)) indicate that Popper’s intuitions were along the modern lines while Worrall’s intuitions are old fashioned. Therefore Popper’s “Darwinian Model” remains both viable and fruitful.
Keywords evolutionary epistemology  natural selection  orthogenesis
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DOI 10.2307/25171293
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Mehul Shah (2008). The Logics of Discovery in Popper's Evolutionary Epistemology. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 39 (2):303 - 319.

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