Yoshida considers two broad understandings of how social scientists can and should “describe and explain other cultures or their aspects under concepts of rationality” . In the one corner is a family of approaches that Yoshida finds deeply flawed: cultural interpretivist approaches. Five authors representative of this family are given fine chapter length examinations: Winch, Taylor, Geertz, Sahlins, and Obeyesekere. In the other corner is Yoshida’s favored approach: critical rationalism. This approach is associated with the intellectual descendants of Karl Popper—notably (...) Jarvie and Agassi. It is presented in outline and treated as the clear winner. By virtue of not having the defects that are diagnosed in the interpretivist approaches, critical rationalism is presented as the fitting approach in the social sciences. This dialectical structure has two notable weaknesses: First, showing that one item, A, lacks the problems found in another item, B, should not be take .. (shrink)
Karl Popper and Friedrich von Hayek became close friends soon after they first met in the early 1930s. Ever since, they discussed their ideas intensively on many occasions. But even though an analysis of the origins and contents of their ideas and correspondence reveals a number of important and fundamental differences, they rarely criticize each other in their published work. The article analyzes in particular the different ideas they have on the role of reason in society and on rationalism and (...) the roots of these differences. Popper’s “Towards a Rational Theory of Tradition” of 1948 contains a criticism of Hayek’s idea—published, for instance, in “Individualism: True and False” of 1945—that we must accept tradition without trying to change it. An analysis of the differences between the two authors touches on topics such as the possibility of public intervention in society, the role of social science in this, the methodology of social science, and the differences between liberalism and social democracy. The article concludes with some possible explanations for Popper and Hayek downplaying their differences in public. The fact remains that they never resolved the tension between Popper’s critical rationalism and Hayek’s conservative rationalism. (shrink)
Social science employs teleological explanations which depend upon the rationality principle, according to which people exhibit instrumental rationality. Popper points out that people also exhibit critical rationality, the tendency to stand back from, and to question or criticise, their views. I explain how our critical rationality impugns the explanatory value of the rationality principle and thereby threatens the very possibility of social science. I discuss the relationship between instrumental and critical rationality and show how we can reconcile our critical rationality (...) with the possibility of social science if we invoke Popper’s conception of limited rationality and his indeterminism. (shrink)
Even though Popper, Lawson and Mäki are realists, the three of them understand by realism something different and support different positions on the use of models in economics. In this article we will compare the three proposals on their conceptions of reality, the function and the nature of economic models and their use to study the social world.
According to Popper's rationality principle, agents act in the most adequate way according to the objective situation. I propose a new interpretation of the rationality principle as consisting of an idealization and two abstractions. Based on this new interpretation, I critically discuss the privileged status that Popper ascribes to it as an integral part of all social scientific models. I argue that as an idealization, the rationality principle may play an important role in the social sciences, but it also has (...) inherent limitations that inhibit it from having the privileged status that Popper ascribes to it in all cases. (shrink)
I analyze the historical background and philosophical considerations of Karl Bühler and his student Karl Popper regarding the crisis of psychology. They share certain Kantian questions and methods for reflection on the state of the art in psychology. Part 1 outlines Bühler’s diagnosis and therapy for the crisis in psychology as he perceived it, leading to his famous theory of language. I also show how the Kantian features of Bühler’s approach help to deal with objections to his crisis diagnosis and (...) to aspects of his linguistic theory. Part 2 turns to Popper’s dissertation, completed in 1928 under Bühler. I analyze Popper’s disapproval of Schlick’s physicalism in psychology, as well as Popper’s attempt to extend Bühler’s Kantian strategy to the domain of the psychology of thinking. In conclusion, I indicate how these approaches to the crisis in psychology differ from Thomas Kuhn’s notions of crisis and revolution, which are still all too popular in current philosophical discussions of psychology. (shrink)
In this paper I expose the hermeneutic turn in Popperian philosophy of science. It is a milestone in the search of scientific rationality because permit us explain and understand both the method of deductive test of theories and the growth of knowledge. Especially, incorporating hermeneutics parameters, build up from Popper’s point of view, like situational logic, supported on the third world theory and the scientific tradition theory, open a door to another form of understand the scientific rationality. It expands the (...) ingenuous model of falsification towards the question of increase of knowledge, which consists on pose problems, putforwards tentative theories, evaluate error elimination, and generate new problems. One of the outcomes leads us to replant our conception of Popper’s philosophy of science close from an hermeneutic point of view. (shrink)
The paper offers a reconstruction of Popper’s conception of the logical situation. It provides the analysis of the structure of this conception, its genesis, and the attempts at its explication, as well as its critical discussion. The authors confront Popper’s method of situational logic with Kmita’s method of humanistic interpretation.
Popper's theory of demarcation has set the standard of falsifiability for all sciences. But not all falsifiable theories are part of science and some tests of scientific theories are better than others. Popper's theory has led to the banning of metaphysical and/or philosophical anthropological theories from science. But Joseph Agassi has supplemented Popper's theory to explain how such theories are useful as research programs within science. This theory can also be used to explain how interesting tests may be found. Theories (...) of rationality may be used to illustrate this point by showing how they fail or succeed in producing interesting and testable hypotheses in the social sciences. (shrink)
In this paper I criticize Popper's conception of the rationality principle in the social sciences. First, I survey Popper's outlook on the role of a principle of rationality in theorizing in the social sciences. Then, I critically examine his view on the status of the principle of rationality concluding that the arguments supporting it are quite weak. Finally, I contrast his standpoint with an alternative conception. This, I show, helps us understand better Popper's reasons for adopting his perspective on rationality.
Popper's methodological individualism and the social sciences. Popper's philosophy of social sciences poses a dilemma that arises out of the two theses of methodological individualism and situational logic. In order to find a way out of this dilemma, one must raise the question concerning the epistemological and methodological status of the `laws' of the human sciences. There are indeed `rules' from which human actions depart mostly to a negligible extent, but they remain valid or stay in effect without exception only (...) as far as they are not re-evoked or re-emerge in the consciousness of the agents. The element of truth of methodological individualism lies in the person's capacity to revoke, in principle, the validity of the rules concerning oneself. Situational logic and methodological individualism can thus be reconciled. (shrink)
One of the hallmark themes of Karl Popper’s approach to the social sciences was the insistence that when social scientists are members of the society they study, then they are liable to affect that society. In particular, they are liable to affect it in such a way that the claims they make lose their validity. “The interaction between the scientist’s pronouncements and social life almost invariably creates situations in which we have not only to consider the truth of such pronouncements, (...) but also their actual influence on future developments. The social scientist may be striving to find the truth; but, at the same time, he must always be exerting a definite influence upon society. The very fact that his pronouncements do exert an influence destroys their objectivity.” (Popper 1963. (shrink)
Popper is commonly considered as an analytical philosopher who focuses on epistemological and methodological aspects of scientific development, disregarding any social, cultural or political consideration. Against this popular image of Poppers philosophy, I argue in this paper that Poppers acco..
Popper's version of situational analysis, with its focus on the logic of situations and the rationality principle, fails to provide cogent explanations of the human decisions and actions underpinning social phenomena. It so fails because where he demanded objectivism and formalism in the social sciences, his substantive arguments lost contact with the psychological and subjectivist realities of the human realm. But Popper also devised some key elements of a social ontology. It is argued that although there are crucial gaps in (...) his ontology, it can be augmented to give situational analysis the potential to reach beyond pure logic and rationality and to bring social theory closer to grasping the real world of human action. (shrink)
This dissertation is a discussion of Popper's attempt at solving the problem of tyranny, which is the problem that inspires Popper's writings on social science and institutional change. In his view, both political apathy and radical social change are a threat to freedom. A serious consideration of the questions he raises and the answers he advances would benefit the reader, regardless of his or her political persuasion. ;In applying 'situational analysis' or 'rational reconstruction', I followed Popper's methodological recommendations. This approach (...) regards the theory under scrutiny as a rational attempt to solve a problem and it purports to explain why the proposed solution to the problem seems satisfactory to the theorist. It requires an endeavor to systematically reconstruct Popper's thought as a consistent edifice. The discussion encompasses methodological as well as substantive claims. ;After a detailed review of Popper's theories of scientific method, methodological individualism, situational logic and piecemeal social engineering, I conclude that Popper's focus on the demarcation between metaphysics and science is misplaced. That demarcation may be helpful if indeed social theories were falsifiable and piecemeal social reform had no insurmountable limits. However, I argue that this is not the case and that a faithful adherence to his recommendations would confine social change within the parameters of capitalist societies. ;My critique of Popper's thought does not omit to point out his many significant contributions to the defense of human freedom. For instance, his Socratic approach to knowledge, his emphasis on individual responsibility and the need for an institutional set up to curtail political and economic power, as well as his warning about the inevitable unintended repercussions of intentional actions. Popper's thought illustrates how fruitful his 'critical rationalism' can be. Indeed, I contend that critical rationalism and not methodological individualism is the procedure most apposite to social science, an approach which does not legislate on the pertinence of any particular method of study. (shrink)
Karl Popper's methodology can be seen as the situational logic of research. Popper called his method "Epistemology without a Knowing Subject." It was dismissed as metaphysical by those who refuse to give up an ideal knowing subject (a perfect human inductive processor). This article surveys the failure of modem discussions of this ideal, from the earliest (the writings of Sir Francis Bacon) to the latest (Kripke). The knowing subject exits at last, but leaves behind interesting results. The ideal knowing subject (...) embodied ideal rationality, outside culture and history. Giving up this ideal invites us to integrate science with its background, to grade rationality (from magic to science), and to integrate different degrees of rationality under one rule. (shrink)
This article assesses the value of Karl Popper's situational analysis for contem porary sociology We maintain that this element of Popper's social science methodology has been largely neglected by sociologists and suggest that this is because it is borrowed from economics. As such, situational analysis has much in common with recent attempts to introduce rational choice in sociology. Our main question is this: What is the contribution of situational analysis to the current debate about rational choice in sociology? Our answer (...) is that Popper has little to add to this debate. His formulation of situational analysis is too general and too vague to be much of a guide to research. Among other things, situational analysis fails to pay due attention to interests and to social interaction in the explanation of social phenomena. On the positive side, we notice that Popper does include social institutions as the most important element in individuals' situations. (shrink)
Popper holds to the unity of scientific method: any differences between natural and social science are a product of theory, not a pretheoretical premise. Distin guishing instead pure and applied generalizing sciences, Popper focuses on the different role of laws in each. In generalizing social science, our tools are the logic of the situation, including the rationality principle, and unintended conse quences. Situations contain individuals, but also social entities not reducible to individuals: conspiracy theory is the extreme form of individualism. (...) Action in situations has unintended consequences. Both social and natural laws may be required to explain outcomes. The fate of Popper's ideas is a case study in the logic of the situation. Professional philosophers of social science lean toward individualism and a priorism (either intuitionist or rational choice). There are social and political explanations of this outcome, but little critical engagement with Popper's ideas. (shrink)
This article raises the question of whether standard economics with the general equilibrium model at its core applies situational analysis in a Popperian sense. Contrary to Popper's own view, the authors come to the conclusion that this is not the case. Standard economics fails to represent elements essential to any social situation in an adequate manner. It comprises uncertainty, time and space, social interaction, unintended effects, as well as culture and institutions. The authors suggest, therefore, the socioeconomic context as an (...) alternative approach to analyzing social situations. It consists of four basic elements: (1) dominant worldviews, (2) institutions and technologies, (3) relative prices, and (4) political instruments. The alternative approach was applied with some success to analyzing inter alia problems of unemployment as well as of transformation. (shrink)
The Rationality Principle says that people act adequately to their situation, but does not specify how they must act in order to do so. Situational Analysis uses the Rationality Principle, together with a model of the social situation, to explain actions in the past. Unlike Rational Choice Theory, Situational Analysis does not try to predict or influence actions in the future. Popper regarded the Rationality Principle as false, but thought that we should use it nonetheless. This poses a problem for (...) understanding his views about conjecture and refutation. Popper, however, thought that all scientific models are false, and that whether or not we should reject a model depends on the problem that we are trying to solve. (shrink)
The problem addressed by this dissertation is the subject matter and methods of social science vis-a-vis the natural sciences and the humanities. It is commonly believed that the methodology of the social sciences is basically the same as that of the natural sciences, but that the subject matter--humanity--overlaps with the humanities. According to that view, the often-discussed gap between science and the humanities affects the social sciences as well. ;This project attempts to redirect our way of looking at this problem (...) by employing a number of strategies. First, it examines the issue as it has been explored by contemporary thinkers. Second, it describes the Verstehen method as employed by Max Weber, Karl Jaspers, and others. Third, it distinguishes between the pedagogical and research aspects of scientific theory and finds the former of unusual significance in the social sciences. That is because they are less tied to prediction and more to intuition than are the natural sciences. Fourth, it employs Karl Popper's Three Worlds metaphysics as a way of validating a revised Verstehen approach to the social sciences. ;The Three Worlds model holds that there are three components of reality: the physical world, the intrapsychic world, and the world of culture or objective knowledge. Aside from validating a verstehende social science, the aforementioned model helps to shed light on a number of contemporary issues in the social sciences including: the relationship between causal connections and meaningful connections, the meaning of "explanation," the interaction between mind and matter, the nature of probability and the nature of economics and other social sciences as disciplines. Despite its usefulness, however, the model is difficult for many to accept. ;The author approves of Popper's rejection of monism in favor of pluralism, but unlike Popper, he insists upon the uniqueness of social science. He also questions Popper's insistence on the lack of interaction between worlds 1 and 3. Like Popper, he rejects the notions of group minds or necessity in human history. Instead, he focuses on the role of individual freedom and consciousness as they interact with culture and uses Popper's model to focus our attention upon the significance of culture in the study of humanity. He views social science as running the gamut from natural science to the humanities and as the cornerstone of contemporary education because of its comprehensiveness in comparison with the natural sciences and the humanities. This will be seen to have far-reaching significance not only for the development of social science research, but for pedagogical and other practical applications as well, despite the fact that the project generally steers clear of value-laden issues. Nevertheless, it affirms the need for axiological and faith commitments for human flourishing. (shrink)
The attacks on historicism by radical individualists such as Popper and Mises have had lasting repercussions in the social sciences. Specifically, the term is used to connote deterministic, teleological theories of history, associated with Hegelian notions of destiny and positivist ideas of historical laws. This article argues that historicism is very different in character, in that it essentially amounts to the belief that social science and history are one and the same, whilst emphasizing the separate epis temology of natural science. (...) It rejects the fictitious historicism invented by Popper in his famous polemic, and challenges the idea of a value- free social science posited by Mises, who saw history and human action as logically distinct entities. In conclusion, it is argued that the mecha nistic rationalism that characterizes much of social science, particularly modern economics, should be supplementary, if anything, to the primacy of history. The notion of transcendent, value-free criteria upon which to construct social science is refuted. (shrink)
While the ethics and the sociology of The Open Society can stand up to criticism after 50 years, it is argued that Popper's thesis that closed societies are prompted and promoted by "historicism" cannot. Moreover, Popper's conceptions of "historicism" and of "developmental law" are based on a misunderstanding of our knowledge of history, the practice of historical writing, and the discipline of sociology. In conclusion there is an attempt to explain why, of all people Popper ever criticized for their historicism, (...) Darwin alone was singled out by him for exoneration. (shrink)
Popper's short essay about the rationality principle has been the target of many criticisms which have raised serious doubts about its consistency. How could the well-known promoter of falsificationism suggest that we not reject a principle that he himself describes as false? Nonetheless, the essay can be read in a way that makes it appear much more consistent. Better sense can be made of Popper's own examples (the flustered driver, the pedestrian, etc.), by taking seriously his view that the rationality (...) principle might be "approximately true" and falsified only in very rare cases, while also giving proper attention to his four rather elliptical arguments. (shrink)
Many methodologists are firmly convinced that Popper's arguments concerning the status of the rationality principle (RP) are incoherent or incompatible with the essentials of falsificationism. The present essay first shows that the accusation of incompatibility of situational logic with falsificationism does not hold up to scrutiny but then shows that Popper's arguments are nonetheless flimsy if not indefensible. For it seems that one can distinguish between two different versions of the RP in Popper's writings. If the first version is plainly (...) "objectivist" and can be characterized with Popper as empirically false, the second one is rather "subjectivist" and is not falsifiable as such. The essay shows that this second reading of the RP is the one that Popper finally adopts but that, unfortunately enough, this formulation of the RP looks more like a metaphysical statement than like an empirical law. It could then be held to be a priori valid as such, by analogy with Popper's line of argument concerning the principle of causality. If this is correct, then Popper's thesis on the empirical status of the RP is confuted. (shrink)
Popper has proposed a ?theory of situational rationality? as a basis for the social sciences. This theory of rational action is reconstructed and its methodological and substantial implications discussed. It is shown that methodologically Popper's idea of rational action leads to a version of theoretical instrumentalism which is incompatible with his general philosophy of science, and that substantially it implies an unacceptable theory of social institutions. Instrumentalism can be avoided by a more contentful theory of human action encompassing ?non?rational? or (...) ?irrational? kinds of action; Popper's theory of institutions might be improved through a more comprehensive theory of collective action. (shrink)
There is a credibility decay on positive knowledge among the social scientists and particularly among the psychologists. Certainly different prejudices dwell upon this phenomenon. First and principal the usually made identity of positive and natural knowledge. This belief is also fed by many others such as that one which assumes that every quantification, which is a consequence of positive knowledge,follows the model of the Physical Sciences. We consider that all these prejudices do not keep in mind the work done in (...) the last decades on the Theories of Measure. We consider also that psychophysical methods which have been introduced by Stevens present a stimulating program for the behavioral sciences and they open a new frontiere to the positive knowledge. (shrink)
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the scientific merit of the psychotherapy called Transactional Analysis, developed by Eric Berne in the mid 1960s. ;The investigation uses Stephen Toulmin and Karl Popper as chief critics of this social science system, though the concepts borrowed from them for the critique were originally aimed at the analysis of natural science. ;The first chapter is devoted to an analysis of the chief concepts of Berne's system with emphasis on the philosophical connections with (...) game theory. Much of Berne's work has been criticized for over-extension of terminology and this charge is analyzed with respect to games, strokes, and scripts. ;The second chapter seeks to apply several of Toulmin's notions about science to this particular psychological system. The nature of scientific reasoning as it applies to motive assessment is investigated along with the role models, theories, and descriptions play in interpreting reality. The study concludes that under scrutiny from Toulmin, TA remains viable as a science. ;The third chapter analyzes the system from the viewpoint of Karl Popper, an unfriendly critic of the social sciences. In the course of the analysis, Berne's notion of intuition is investigated to determine whether it measures up to an empiricist critique. It is argued that even under his falsificationalist criterion, TA survives, though some of its main tenets lose some credibility. ;The study closes with a suggestion for the adoption of a contextual epistemology for the social sciences which would emphasize the nature of its human subject matter and design criteria accordingly. (shrink)