Summary of Karl Popper’s the Logic of Scientific Discovery
I, however, believe that there is at least one philosophical problem in which all thinking men are interested. It is the problem of cosmology: the problem of understanding the world—including ourselves, and our knowledge, as part of the world.
Popper was a somewhat paradoxical man, whose theoretic commitment to the primacy of rational criticism was counterpointed by hostility towards anything that amounted to less than total acceptance of his own thought, and in Britain—as had been the case in Vienna—he became increasingly an isolated figure, though his ideas continued to inspire admiration. In later years Popper came under philosophical criticism for his prescriptive approach to science and his emphasis on the logic of falsification. This was superseded in the eyes of many by the socio-historical approach taken by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), who—in arguing for the incommensurability of rival scientific paradigms—reintroduced the idea that change in science is essentially dialectical and is dependent upon the establishment of consensus within communities of researchers.
Partially in response to worries such as these, the logical empiricists’ later work abandons the verifiability criterion of meaning and instead emphasizes the importance of the empirical confirmation of scientific theories. Popper, however, argues that verification and confirmation played no role in formulating a satisfactory criterion of demarcation. Instead, Popper proposes that scientific theories are characterized by being bold in two related ways (Thornton, Stephen. 2014).
My concern in this book is to spell out what is of greatest importance in Popper’s work, what its failings are, how it needs to be improved to overcome these failings, and what implications emerge as a result.
Schilpp, Paul Arthur, ed. 1974. The Philosophy of Karl Popper. 2 volumes. La Salle, Ill: Open Court.
Thornton, Stephen. 2014. “Karl Popper.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta.
Tichý, Pavel. 1974. “On Popper’s Definitions of Verisimilitude.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 25 (2): 155–60.