The use and abuse of sir Karl Popper

Biology and Philosophy 14 (4):481-504 (1999)
Karl Popper has been one of the few philosophers of sciences who has influenced scientists. I evaluate Popper's influence on our understanding of evolutionary theory from his earliest publications to the present. Popper concluded that three sorts of statements in evolutionary biology are not genuine laws of nature. I take him to be right on this score. Popper's later distinction between evolutionary theory as a metaphysical research program and as a scientific theory led more than one scientist to misunderstand his position on evolutionary theory as a scientific theory. In his later work Popper also introduced what he took to be improvements of evolutionary theory. Thus far these improvements have had almost no influence on evolutionary biology. I conclude by examining the influence of Popper on the reception of cladistic analysis.
Keywords cladistics  evolutionary theory  Lamarckism  metaphysical research programs  operationalism  Popper  stage laws  tautology  testability
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DOI 10.1023/A:1006554919188
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Makmiller Pedroso (2012). Essentialism, History, and Biological Taxa. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):182-190.
Bence Nanay (2011). Popper's Darwinian Analogy. Perspectives on Science 19 (3):337-354.
David L. Hull (2001). The Role of Theories in Biological Systematics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 32 (2):221-238.

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