Sayer argues that Popper defended a logicist philosophy of science. The problem with such logicism is that it creates what is termed here as a `truncated foundationalism', which restricts epistemic certainty to the logical form of scientific theories whilst having nothing to say about their substantive contents. Against this it is argued that critical realism, which Sayer advocates, produces a linguistic version of truncated foundationalism and that Popper's problem-solving philosophy, with its emphasis on developing knowledge through criticism, eschews all forms (...) of foundationalism and is better able to account for the development of substantive knowledge claims. Key Words: critical realism fallibilism logicism post-positivism truncated foundationalism. (shrink)
Francis Bacon foi considerado por alguns pensadores o pai do método experimental. Outros filósofos o acusaram de advogar um empi-rismo naif. Em nosso artigo pretendemos identificar as peculiaridades do tipo de empirismo abraçado por Bacon. Os mais duros críticos de Bacon têm destacado sua retórica fatualista e têm dispensado pouca atenção à complexidade de um sistema metodológico que atribui papel crucial à evidência negativa. Negligenciam principalmente o real significado epis-temológico de sua proposta de uma indução eliminatória. Associando Bacon rigidamente a (...) uma espécie de empirismo justificacionista deixam de detectar importantes ingredientes falibilistas em sua obra. Por aspirar a identificar o que pode haver de falibilismo na obra de Bacon este artigo questionará a avaliação que Popper faz de Bacon ao apresentá-lo como o grande representante do empirismo ingênuo e dogmático. Por mais que sejam procedentes algumas das críticas que Popper dirige a Bacon, mos-traremos que sua leitura repete velhos clichês sobre o autor do Novum Organum.Some philosophers regard Francis Bacon as the father of ex-perimental method. Others accuse Bacon of defending a naïf empiricist theory of knowledge. In this article I try to identify the peculiarities of the empiricism supported by Bacon. Bacon’s most severe critics emphasize his factualist rhetoric, paying no sufficient attention to the complexity of a methodological system that attributes a crucial role to negative evidence. They neglect the real epistemological meaning of Bacon’s proposal of an eliminative induction. As a rule, such critics are unable to detect the important fallibilist features present in Bacon’s work because they tend to, uncritically, identify him with a kind of em-piricist justificationism. The purpose of this article is to investigate the possible fallibilist elements in Bacon’s writings. By so doing, I shall challenge Popper’s evaluation of Bacon’s philosophy of science. I dis-agree with Popper when he describes Bacon as a dogmatic and naïf empiricist. Although some of the criticisms Popper addresses to Bacon are well-founded, I will argue that the general reconstruction of Ba-con’s inductivism carried out by Popper is not fully defensible. (shrink)
This essay is concerned with the epistemic roles of error in scientific practice. Usually, error is regarded as something negative, as an impediment or obstacle for the advancement of science. However, we also frequently say that we are learning from error. This common expression suggests that the role of error is not—at least not always—negative but that errors can make a fruitful contribution to the scientific enterprise. My paper explores the latter possibility. Can errors play an epistemically productive role in (...) scientific research? The paper begins with a review of several twentieth-century approaches to error and the various agendas behind them. It is shown that only very few scholars have considered whether errors can be productive. The main part of the paper examines a concrete debate in early nineteenth-century microscopy and analyses how the microscopists coped with the problem of error. Drawing on this material, the article offers some terminological clarifications of the common notion ‘learning from error’. The conclusion argues that error can indeed play epistemically productive roles in scientific practice.Keywords: Error; Nineteenth-century microscopic anatomy. (shrink)
Popper's philosophy is usually interpreted as a fallibilist epistemology that, when applied to the social theory, serves as the foundation of the open society. It is argued here that the reverse is also true, namely that Popper's theory of knowledge has some ethical roots whose analysis provides us with a better understanding of Popper's thought.
Neopositivistic philosophers held that Popper's destructive criticism to inductive methods is wrong. The legend according to which Popper's criticism, in the final analysis, is inconsistent is greatly widespread also amongst neopositivistic Italian scholars. I argue that they are wrong, and that, in general, Popper's view about induction is true. According to Popper all scientific concepts are theoretical, for every assertion not only entails hypotheses but it is also hypothetical, that is not sure and always falsifiable. I argue that the validity (...) and the strength of Popper's criticism to induction is independent from the view according to which all scientific concepts are theoretical. (shrink)
Two views of the role of truth as an aim of inquiry are contrasted: The Peirce-Popper or messianic view of approach to the truth as an ultimate aim of inquiry and the myopic view according to which a concern to avoid error is a proximate aim common to many otherwise diverse inquiries. The messianic conception is held to be responsible for the tendency to conflate fallibilism with corrigibilism and for the consequent problems faced by Peirceans and Popperians alike in squaring (...) the alleged relevance of the fruits of scientific inquiry for practice while insisting on the corrigibility of knowledge. Myopic realism is advocated as promising escape from these difficulties. (shrink)
Popper's methodology does not entail any playing down of the various indispensible distinctions such as the distinction between knowing and guessing, the distinction between myth and science, the distinction between the observational and the theoretical, and between the vernacular and technical sublanguages or technical vocabulary. By avoiding both the totalization that led to the foundationalist position and the scepticist reactions to these frustrated foundationalist hopes, Popper's methodology makes it possible to combine fallibilism with a realist view of theories. It combines (...) the perennial willingness to re-examine positions, statements, etc. with the claim that a particular theory (as an item of knowledge in the objective sense) constitutes cognitive progress over its rivals. However, some of his formulations have been deliberately provocative and in this way have given rise to certain misgivings about possible paradoxical implications, even in philosophers congenial with Popper's approach. The concept of knowledge in the objective sense is, of course, an explicatum which Popper proposes primarily for use in methodology and epistemology. The concept is an expression of the acknowledgment of fallibility in principle. The phrasing that ‘knowledge is conjectural’ or ‘knowledge is fallible’, even when it refers to knowledge in the objective sense, is but an abbreviation for: since our methods for ascertaining the truth-value of a particular statement about empirical reality are fallible in principle, there cannot be any certain knowledge about reality. In everyday life and in politics tolerance will be possible to the extent to which the recognition of this fallibility is more than a declaration. (shrink)