Karl Popper's political philosophy of social science

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 27 (1):56-79 (1997)
Abstract
This article examines critically Popper's arguments for a "unity of method" between natural science and social science. It discusses Popper's writings on the goals of science, the objects of scientific inquiry, the logic of scientific method, and the value of objectivity The major argument is that, despite his unifying intention, Popper himself provides good reasons for treating the two sciences differently. Popper proposes that social scientists follow a number of rules that are not required for, and that have no direct equivalent in, natural science. For most of the cases examined here, these requirements are not simply marginal amendments to a basic methodological core; they are essentially moral or ethical in character and mark out a radically different intellectual and political enter prise. From this perspective, much of Popper's work on social science method ology has the character of an ethical treatise. It is argued further that Popper's accounts of the differences between natural and social science, and his call for moral responsibility, are based largely upon his understanding of the distinctive political threat that social science poses for the conduct of critical reason.
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