Some observations on a Popperian experiment concerning observation

Summary In several places Popper describes a little experiment in which an audience is given the non-specific command ‚Observe!‘ He draws a number of conclusions from this experiment, in particular that observation takes place in the presence of theoretical problems, questions, hypotheses or points of view. The paper argues that while Popper's experiment is instructive, it hardly supports the strong conclusions he draws about the theory-dominance of observation in science. In particular, it is argued that talk of principles of selection which guide us to relevant observations, rather than the host of irrelevant observations of the naive inductivist, is misleading. Rather, it is the goals, aims, motives or interests of an observer that guide observation and these need not always involve a theoretical component
Keywords Popper  observation  theory-ladenness of observation
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DOI 10.1007/BF01801042
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