Lakatos's epistemic aspirations

Theoria 16 (3):481-498 (2001)
Imre Lakatos argued that a theory of scientific method must be empirical, and therefore self-applicable; the standards it imposes on scientific theories must be ones it satisfies itself. But in relying on this standard of self-referential consistency to protect his theory from criticism, Lakatos becomcs vulnerable to relativism. He escapes by hypothesizing that scientific changes which are methodologically progressive according to his theory are also progressive epistemically. The question is whether his theory of method has the resources to warrant this hypothesis. I construct a line of argument logically open to him, and use its inevitable failure to show that his epistemic aspirations depend on precepts of method that he has wrongly rejected
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