Karl Popper, Science and Enlightenment: An Idea to Help Save the World

Ethical Record 123 (1):27-30 (2018)
Authors
Nicholas Maxwell
University College London
Abstract
Natural science, properly understood, provides us with the methodological key to the salvation of humanity. First, we need to acknowledge that the actual aims of science are profoundly problematic, in that they make problematic assumptions about metaphysics, values and the social use of science. Then we need to represent these aims in the form of a hierarchy of aims, which become increasingly unproblematic as one goes up the hierarchy; as result we create a framework of relatively unproblematic aims and methods, high up in the hierarchy, within which much more problematic aims and methods, low down in the hierarchy, may be improved as scientific knowledge improves. Then, we need to generalize this hierarchical, aims-and-methods-improving methodology so that it becomes fruitfully applicable to any worthwhile endeavour with problematic aims. Finally, we need to apply this methodology to the immensely problematic task of making progress towards as good a world as feasible.
Keywords Karl Popper  Enlightenment  Philosophy of Science  Philosophy of Physics  Scientific Method  Reason  Social Progress  Knowledge  Wisdom
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