Talk:Karl Popper

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Former good article Karl Popper was one of the Philosophy and religion good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Straw Dogs[edit]

i think the quotation from straw dogs is a passing comment made by john n grey and should if anything be put in the context of feyerabend, because it is bassically a regurgitation of feyerabends criticisms, and shows no real evidence that the author [john grey] knows what he's talking about, and in fact shows he had no knowledge of popper's proposed methodology but only that he had limited knowledge of its genesis; einstein's theory of relativity being used frequently throughout poppers life as an example of his own methodolgy.


"His father was a bibliophile who was rumoured to have had 10,000 volumes in his personal library.[4] He took a PhD in philosophy in 1928, and taught secondary school from 1930 to 1936." - this is ambiguous. Was it Karl or his dad that took the PhD in philosophy that year? --Rossjamesparker 13:06, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Style for Nupedia credit?[edit]

Article says: "An earlier version of the above article was posted on 16 May 2001 on Nupedia; reviewed and approved by the Philosophy and Logic group; editor, Wesley Cooper; lead reviewer, Wesley Cooper; lead copyeditors, Cindy Seeley and Ruth Ifcher."

What are Wikipedia style guidelines for credits of this type? I was under the impression that Wikipedia articles don't have explicit credits. Is there some exception for former Nupedia articles? -- Writtenonsand 01:45, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Nupedia, the predecessor to Wikipedia, did have a review and approval procedure. Wikipedia was started by Larry Sanger, Nupedia's editor, as a means of speeding up their disappointingly slow progress. Then Wikipedia boomed and took over, so Nupedia was shut down and Sanger (who holds a PhD in philosophy), left the project. --Blainster 21:18, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Continental tradition[edit]

What does "continental tradition" mean? Idealist? Hegelian specifically? The philosophical distinctives of the various German schools of thought of the nineteenth century: Hegel, Kant, Marx, etc.? Continental rationalism? Something else entirely? Srnec 05:48, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Oh..I think I know what the problem here is. The criticism that Taylor aims at Popper states literally that Popper belittles the "tradition" or something alon those lines. Well, it doesn't get ANY vaguier than that. So, after reading Taylor's article and little bit about Taylor, it is easy to deduce that he is referring to what is now commonly though meanignlessy called "continental philosophy" (i.e. phenomenology, exitentialism, Franfurt school , postmodermism perhaps) versus "analytic" philosophy. I wrote continental school or tradtion. I will make this more specific and add a link, if there is not one already--Lacatosias

Peter Singer's criticism[edit]

Is this argument from Singer's NYRoB essay adequately represented in the article?

Popper wants to say that it is possible to avoid assuming that the future will, or probably will, be like the past, and this is why he has claimed to have solved the problem of induction. We do not have to make the assumption, he tells us, if we proceed by formulating conjectures and attempting to falsify them.

Unfortunately, we still have to act. If I did not assume that because water has come out of my tap in the past when I turned the handle the same will happen today. I might equally sensibly hold my glass under the electric light. On this pragmatic issue Popper's more recent contributions do have a little more to say, but it does not help. He says that, as a basis for action, we should prefer "the best-tested theory." This can only mean the theory that has survived refutation in the past; but why, since Popper says that past corroboration has nothing to do with future performance, is it rational to prefer this? Popper says that it will be "rational" to do so "in the most obvious sense of the word known to me…. I do not know of anything more 'rational' than a well-conducted critical discussion."

The reader familiar with Popper's contempt for linguistic philosophy will rub his eyes at this. Popper has picked up that once trusty but now discarded weapon of linguistic philosophers, the argument from a "paradigm usage" of a word—in this case, the word "rational." The argument proves nothing. As Popper himself has said many times, words do not matter so long as we are not misled by them. Popper's argument is no better than Strawson's claim that induction is valid because inductive reasoning is a paradigm of what we mean by "valid" reasoning. In fact Popper's identification of a "well-conducted critical discussion" with the idea of rationality is doubly unhelpful, since until we know how to establish which theory is more likely to hold in the future we have not the faintest idea how to conduct a "well-conducted critical discussion" that has any bearing on the question we want answered.

More fundamental still is the question how, even in theory, we can possibly prefer one hypothesis to another, or take one as a nearer approximation to truth than the other, if past corroboration has no implications for the future. Without the inductive assumption, the fact that a theory was refuted yesterday is quite irrelevant to its truth-status today. Indeed, in the time it takes to say: "This result corroborates Einstein's theory but not Newton's," all the significance of the remark vanishes, and we cannot go on to say that therefore Einstein's theory is nearer to the truth. So jettisoning the inductive assumption makes nonsense of Popper's own theory of the growth of scientific knowledge. While it is true that on Popper's view induction is not a means of scientific discovery, as it was for Bacon, it remains indispensable, and the logical problem of induction is no nearer to solution than it was before Popper tackled it.

I think that criticism (albeit not in such detail) is represented in the article. I think the language was rather obscure in the section on induction (conflating "believe" and "prove", &c), but I've tried to remedy that just now. Of course, the article leaves it at the fact that Popper was dealing with psychological motivation, rather than logical persuasion, without indicating that the very appeal to falsification as personal/doxastic justification relies on the inductive principle (viz.,--what was falsified in the past under X conditions will be falsified in the future on the same conditions, &c). Certainly, Singer is correct that there is a dialectical tension, if not an outright reductio or self-referential paradox, to be seen in Popper's implicit use of the inductive principle to argue against the necessity of the inductive principle. But I think getting into all that is a bit out of proportion to the minute impact (if any) Popper's "solution" to the problem of induction has had on the philosophic literature. My Two cents. (talk) 23:53, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Talk about jealousy!![edit]

"Martin Gardner claimns that Popper was egotictial and jeaolous of Carnap."

This is a great honor for Carnap, if true, I should think. Enormous fame and recognition carries that sort if thing with it in philosophy. But Popper has far surpassed Carnap in those terms. Proof: The criticism section is longer than the article itself!! Does any philosopher have anything positive to say about old Carl??----Francesco Franco 17:17, 17 July 2006 (UTC) 09:11, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

References section is an abomination[edit]

I'll work on some of this, but I only wrote a small part of this article. I doubt I can find all the sources,. Thanks to Seth Mahoney for highlighting this problem. I'm using the standard ref format for Wikipedia, if I can rememeber how it works (;. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:24, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

I would like to see History of Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Science, BOOK V: "Karl Popper on Scientific Criticism" - with free downloads by chapterincluded in the external links. 15:10, 29 April 2007 (UTC)Thomas J. Hickey

Oh my shirt[edit]

Even the Popper photo has been taken down. Good 'eavens!! What can be done about these "image" problems? --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 14:51, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

New photo[edit]

The article does not discuss the book in question. Also, you need to provide an explicit fair use rationale. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:02, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Excellent review of the Self and Its Brain[edit]

following is an excellent review of The Self and Its Brain, which as the culminating work of Popper's career should certainly play a larger role in the article about him. As I have never edited any Wiki articles, I provide this review for more knowledgeable veterans to incorporate. (note, I am not John Gray)

Reason Papers No. 7 (Spring 1981) 121-124. Copyright O 1981 by the Reason Foundation. JOHN N . GRAY Jesus College, Oxford

Copyright violation excised. Read the original source. Uncle G (talk) 15:49, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Oh, believe me,I'm a great admirere of Karl Popper.

But, the fact is, his bizarre dualistic views in philosophy of mind are not among his most admirable acheivements. Sorry, I'm not going to add mention of "Self and Brain" with the conseuqnce of having to post about 15,000 merited criticisms of it. It would actually worsen the article. Please read "the Logic o Scientific Discovery, "Conjectites abd Refutsations", "on the Poverty of Historicism", "The Open Society and its Enemies", "All the world is problem solving" etc.. instead of that other nonsense about three worlds.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:24, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Goodness gracious...if ever Notturno was right... Regardless of whether you personally think it is 'nonsense', and whether the '15,000 merited criticisms' (are you sure it isn't 20,000 or 30,000, how about 50,000?) are really merited, Popper's 'three worlds' concept is an important component of his philosophy and some mention of it needs to be made, preferably by someone who hasn't so severe an allergic reaction to any mention of it.--Calamus, 1119 EDT, 3 September 2006
You must simply take my word on this matter. I have it from Sir Karl himself that he had formally renounced this notion of six or seven worlds back in the early may of 1972 but that this was never made known to anyone. Later that evening, he was taken out of his home and brough to a unspecified detention camp by memebers of the KGB. He was shot and replace by a doppleganger which had been consrtucetd to resemeble Popper in every partcualr, except that the Popper2 version had not recounced the doctine of three worlds. Thus it is to Popper2 that the notion should be attrinbted and a new page started for Popper2. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:45, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Rejecting his conclusions is no justification for not including this material in the Wiki about him!

Popper himself told you this? It is curious then, that the he didn't strike the appropriate material from the 2nd addition of his 'Objective Knowledge', and didn't object to the publication of 'Knowledge and Body-Mind Problem' (which I think was published while he was still alive, and even if it wasn't, 'The Myth of the Framework' was, as I recall, and it too makes reference to objective knowledge). I haven't read 'A World of Propensities' in a while, but I think he still mentions it there, too. Why didn't he recant in public? Even his philosophical allies would have been happy to see it and reassured that Popper had not become a senile old fool. No one else seems to be aware of his mysterious recantation, either. Herbert Keuth, e.g., in his recent treatment of Popper's philosophy, considers the 'three worlds' to be as worthy of discussion as anything else (he doesn't like it either, though). I am afraid your word, which I reject without trying to denigrate it, is just not enough for me (and wouldn't be enough for any good Popperian), and I still say that a succinct overview of this aspect of Popper's metaphysics should be included in this article. Even if he rejected this view later on, it should still be covered here (other thinkers who have Wiki pages have sections dealing with ideas that they abandoned).--Calamus, 1406 EDT, 16 September 2006

I agree completely with Calamus on this issue, based on my comprehensive knowledge of Popper around the time of my 1982 In Pursuit of Truth: Essays on the Philosophy of Karl Popper (edited anthology). PaulLev 21:29, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Alright, alright!! It was a bad attempt at humor. Go ahead and add something on it, already. This is Wikipedia!! Do I have to do everything myself?--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:07, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Lacatosias said further up: We have a serious problem here, folks. Listen up, listen up....I don't understand why I'm being almost compltely ignored in this place!! This is VERY IMPORTANT. Popper does not discuss "evolutionary epistemology" in his "Conjectures and Refutations." Not AT ALL: I hav the book right here in front of me. Where is it?? Anyone??

Reply: Popper discusses evolutionary epistemolgy directly in at least two chapters of the book _All LIfe is Problem Solving_. Also see Popper's reply to Donald's Campbells paper "Evolutionary Epsitemology" in the Schilpp volume The Philosophy of Karl Popper. It boggles the mind why some people think one or two books by an author is the final word by the author. No wonder some people around here are "almost completely ignored."

Typical phenomenon exclusive to Wikipedia I'm afraid. But easy to clear up. The context for that comment no longer exists!! If you had looked back into the history, you would have found that the article, at one point, stated (or implied) that evolutionary epistemlogy was discussed specifically in "Conjectures and Refutations". I corrected that and left a note on the talk page to note the error that I was correcting. Nothing more. Of course, Popper discusses evolutionary epistemology in other works. That was not the context. I hope that's clear now.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:36, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

GA Re-Review and In-line citations[edit]

Note: This article has a small number of in-line citations for an article of its size and currently would not pass criteria 2b.
Members of the Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles are in the process of doing a re-review of current Good Article listings to ensure compliance with the standards of the Good Article Criteria. (Discussion of the changes and re-review can be found here). A significant change to the GA criteria is the mandatory use of some sort of in-line citation (In accordance to WP:CITE) to be used in order for an article to pass the verification and reference criteria. It is recommended that the article's editors take a look at the inclusion of in-line citations as well as how the article stacks up against the rest of the Good Article criteria. GA reviewers will give you at least a week's time from the date of this notice to work on the in-line citations before doing a full re-review and deciding if the article still merits being considered a Good Article or would need to be de-listed. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us on the Good Article project talk page or you may contact me personally. On behalf of the Good Articles Project, I want to thank you for all the time and effort that you have put into working on this article and improving the overall quality of the Wikipedia project. Agne 01:46, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Popper's Unpopularity[edit]

Here's the complete text of Melvyn Bragg's newsletter, written 8th Feb 2007, the same day as the broadcast of his Radio Four programme:

Copyright violation excised. Read the original source. Uncle G (talk) 15:49, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Thegn 12:32, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

More about Melvyn Bragg's show and comments[edit]

The BBC radio programme described can be expected to remain available online in RealPlayer audio at Until February 15th 2007 it's also an MP3 under certain terms and conditions. The other contributors are named on the page as: John Worrall, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics; Anthony O'Hear, Weston Professor of Philosophy at Buckingham University; Nancy Cartwright, Professor of Philosophy at the LSE and the University of California.

The newsletter seems to be available only by subscribing a personal e-mail address in advance at no charge, as I did, and may not be suitable source material - indeed I presume it's copyrighted. Stern warnings here are noted. If it was available online from the BBC or Melvyn's personal site, that would be satisfactory. Hosting it yourself... I don't know.

Lord Bragg is coy about which contributor said what about Sir Karl's personal qualities and it's unfortunate that this ends up as "In the words of Melvyn Bragg", although "In the words of Professor John Worrall" - for example - would be more professionally embarrassing. It's implied that at least one of the contributors has suffered directly already due to Popper's animosity, but I believe they didn't expect that to be repeated. But if Popper really was such a difficult person to know then surely there will be other sources. We could see how he got on in New Zealand in coffee bars, for instance.

Robert Carnegie 11:49, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Are Bragg's comments about Popper "petty and tendentious"?[edit]

We seem to be at an impasse over whether any of Bragg's comments should be included. I have no axe to grind, and know next to nothing about Popper, but I believe they help illuminate his life. At the moment the section on Popper's Life details many of the awards he received, but it says little of the human being. Did he ever marry, or have children? The section says nothing about this. Bragg's comments shed some light on Popper's nature, which might help to explain Popper's marital status, which may or may not have a bearing on Popper's philosophical career. I don't think it's right to describe Bragg's comments as "petty". Thegn 19:56, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

At the very least, you'd better cite your sources. Otherwise, it's completely meaningless and unverifiable OR.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:07, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
The source is Melvyn Bragg, written immediately after the programme which has given Popper more coverage in the British media than he's had for years. The comment is replete with meaning, whether or not it's true(!), and... dare I say it?... falsifiable. Thegn 05:50, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
OMG I listened to some of that program. Nancy Cartwright is just about clueless. She claims that Popper, along with the Logical Positivists, made the demand that science be "value free"! Of course, Popper never claims such a thing (if anything he understood the value-ladenness of science and claimed the opposite of what Cartwright says; something that puts him in tension with the positivists)... which suggests to me that Cartwright is highly unfamiliar with Popper's work (a cursory glance at her work also reveals little if any engagement with Popper). So you can be sure she isn't the source (or if she is, shameful bandwagoner!).. probably Worrall (shame on you!) or O'Hear.

I removed the offensive quote from the article without reading the talk page because it contained no source citation, a clear violation of policy. Now I see that a source has been posted here, but unless it can be verified, it is not usable. Also, there is a long "Excelelnt review" of The Self and Its Brain posted above, but it states it is copyrighted, so it must be removed. Because anything posted on Wikipedia can be freely copied according to our GNU license, it is not acceptable to merely obtain permission to post here. --Blainster 07:59, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Removed categories per Wikipedia:Categorization of people[edit]

I meant this guideline and not BLP obviously. SO many darn policies and guidelines. The article describes Popper as an agnostic who "was born in Vienna (then in Austria-Hungary) in 1902 to middle-class parents of Jewish origins, who had both converted to Christianity." Should these categories really apply here. Anyways, I look forward to be enlightened as always :) --Tom 02:13, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

I reverted SLimVirgin's edit since there was no explaination. Slim, giving an explaination for your edits would go a long way to helping the project and other editors, it seems. Thanks, --Tom 11:51, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
Are there reliable, verifiable sources that call or "consider" Popper to be Jewish? It seems that this is original research to say that he is of Jewish "decent" and then label him a Jew. I guess I need to go read the article Who is a Jew? again. It seems that unclear cases should not be catagorized this way. Anyways, thanks, --Tom 20:14, 13 March 2007 (UTC) ps the article says that his parents converted?? But the letter that was used as a source makes it sound as though he converted? This is too confusing. Oh well, I am sure to be enlightened.

To end this once and for all. Firstly, Newport has already supplied a reliable source that explicitly calls him Jewish, namely his official obituary from the British Academy [1]: "The book was brought to Einstein’s attention through musical connections. Popper’s friend Rudolf Serkin played with the Busch Chamber Orchestra and had recently married Adolf and Frieda Busch’s daughter. Frieda knew Einstein, now in Princeton, through his violin-playing. In April 1935 she sent him a copy of Logik der Forschung, explaining that the author was a Jew living in Vienna and hence had no prospects". Secondly, being Jewish had a profound effect on his life because he had to flee the Nazis. Thirdly, Judaism can be an ethnic as well as a religious description, and undoubtedly he was 100% Jewish by descent.--Runcorn 21:05, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

The letter goes on to say "Not that Popper regarded himself as Jewish. Both his parents were of Jewish descent, but had converted to Lutheranism, wanting to be assimilated." what we need are reliable sources, not a letter from a girl friend. Why is this a problem? --Tom 22:06, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

The letter says no such thing; what is quoted is not from the letter. Why is a clear statement from someone who knew Popper well not a reliable source? If you want another reference, see Encyclopaedia Judaica, art. "Philosophy", where Popper is one of a long list of philosophers mentioned while describing the Jewish contribution to philosophy. Obviously, he is mentioned because he was a Jewish philosopher.--Runcorn 23:19, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, the letter didn't say that, that was the auther's interjection it looks like. Anyways, user:JackO'Lantern, the voice of reason might chime in now. Also, I am not trying to be a dick about this. Cheers, --Tom 23:36, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
If I may suggest, we have here the ethnicity vs. religion question. By ethnicity he was Jewish, by religion he was not. Since we have the statement that he did not wish to be considered Jewish (presumably referring to his religion), I see no reason not to defer to that wish. Because the categories are subcategories for both ethnicity and religion, I think they should not be used here. --Blainster 01:49, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Blainster for the imput. I am actually still trying to figure out .... The article says his parents converted? Was this before he was born? Was this a case where the family said they were Lutheran, but they knew they were really Jewish and did out of self preservation? Did Popper himself actually "convert"? If so, he was Jewish before he converted? Forget the stupid Wiki categories, this has now really got me interested in the man's story. My grandfather had to hide the fact he was a Jew so he could attend West Point since the accademy didn't allows Jews to attend for some time. Anyways, thanks --Tom 01:57, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
The story seems to be that his parents, both Jewish, converted to Lutheranism before he was born. When he was born, presumably he was baptized into the Lutheran religion as well as the other Lutheran practices, such as they may be. So no, Popper did not technically "convert" out of Judaism or into another religion. Ethnically speaking, he was Jewish, and, under traditional Orthodox Judaism (i.e. Who is a Jew?) he would be considered Jewish because his mother, maternal grandmother, etc. were, regardless of his mother's conversion. As for the Jewish category, btw, it is in both the "ethnicity" and "religion" categories, but that's because Jewishness can be both, not either/or. For example, you wouldn't exclude converts to Judaism, who are not ethnically Jewish. Mad Jack 02:14, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Very well explained MadJack. As an aside, if one's grandfather was Jewish, ie his mother was Jewish, would his son or grandson be ethnicly Jewish? I was told tonight that I am 25% Jewish, whatever the hell that means. I was actually raised as a Quaker but consider myself first and foremost an American :). Thanks, --Tom 02:32, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Well Jewish ethnicity (Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, etc.) is passed down like any other ethnicity, "genetically speaking", so if someone's paternal grandfather was Jewish and paternal grandmother was Italian, it would be logical to describe their background as 25% Italian, 25% Ashkenazi Jewish, 50% etc. Orthodox Judaism (as well as Conservative Judaism), however, does not recognize any other ethnic background but that of the one passed down through the maternal line, so if someone's maternal grandmother, or maternal grandmother's mother, and so on, was Jewish, that person would be considered fully Jewish as well (for example, Kate Hudson's maternal grandmother was Jewish, so Hudson is considered Jewish, as would be all of her children, and all of her female children's children, and so on, regardless of the males; luckily, Hudson considers herself Jewish as well). However, it's not all about ethnic maternal descent, because, if a non-Jewish woman converted to Orthodox Judaism, all of her children (born after her conversion) would be considered Jewish, and all of her female children's children, and so on (for example, Isla Fisher is a convert to Orthodox Judaism, so, unless she renounces that conversion, Fisher and her children have the same "Jewish status" as Kate Hudson). Those cases are rare, but they do happen. Mad Jack 04:21, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Criticism of Falsifiability as a Criterion for Scientific Truth {Gödel, Turing}[edit]

I'd be curious to learn how Mr. Popper

Sir Karl.

deals with fellow Austrian philosopher Kurt Gödel conclusions about the limitations of number system, as well as Alan Turing's associated notions of undecidability. The article entry concerning questioning Popper's putative response to the apparently unfalsiable statement: "for every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt" represents a naive criticism in this direction. More unsettling for Popper's adherents must be the fact that since the 1920s modern mathematics recognises the existence of innumerable truths which are neither provable nor falsifiable.

--Philopedia 09:31, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

The easy way out would to point out that Godel and Tarski's results only hold under a number of assumptions, such as consistency. You could accept inconsistency and then whenever you ran into a problem, you simply and pragmatically examine empirical data for which of the two choices you should adopt. This is already the de facto position, IMO, where it comes to things which can be proven independent of ZMF set theory, like the infamous axiom of choice or the continuum hyothesis. --Gwern (contribs) 18:26 26 May 2007 (GMT)
The answer to both points is that mathematical reasoning and empirical science are different domains. 1Z 19:11, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

to back up the above point here is a quote: "the problem of finding a criterion which would enable us to distinguish between empirical sciences on the one hand, and mathematics and logic as well as 'metaphysics' on the other, i call the problem of demarcation" so you see poppers methodology sees mathematics as something seperate from science. this quote is from the logic of scientific discovery, chapter 1, section 4: the problem of demarcation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:28, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

"Popper's falsificationism can be questioned logically, by asking about statements such as "There are black holes", which cannot be falsified by any possible observation yet seem to be scientifically legitimate claims."

I'd have to say that I disagree that this is considered a scientifically legitimate claim - at least, the existence of black holes is not the hypothesis. Science could predict the properties of black holes, but a theory would prohibit the existence of something. In The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Popper goes over these kinds of non-falsifiable existential statements. I'd say that "there are black holes" is not a scientific claim or hypothesis in itself. Dealing with a black hole would be more specific and would involve predicting the properties of a black hole and saying, "That is a black hole." Such a statement is falsifiable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:18, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Version 0.7[edit]

This article was mistakenly tagged for V0.7. However, it has now been passed officially by a member of the review team, and it will be on the DVD. I modified the tag; as can be seen, it is not listed as a Vital Article. Thanks for the nomination, Walkerma 02:37, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

2nd GA Review[edit]

This article has again been listed at GA Review, as it fails to meet some [Article Criteria]. The major problems with the article are an inadequate lead, a lack of a fair use rationale for a copyrighted image, and a lack of in-text citations for such a long article. If you agree with the delistment, or feel that the article should remain a GA, feel free to make comments at WP:GA/R. This article will remain under review for about a week, so please take the time to improve this article to bring it up to GA standards. Raime 15:12, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

This article has been delisted from WP:GA per the discussion, now in archive, at WP:GA/R which can be seen here. Once issues have been addressed and the article meets the criteria listed at WP:WIAGA, the article may be renominated at WP:GAC. Regards, Lara♥Love 18:58, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

Considering it has been almost two years since this article was flagged for its lack of citations and personal research and/or plagiarism characteristics, why is the offending section not simply deleted and/or replaced? Obviously, the author is not going to fix it. Wikipedia gives primacy to content-building and endless discussion over actually getting things right. And when the vast majority of articles do not meet basic standards, yet remain up for years, then by definition, there actually are no basic standards. (talk) 02:06, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Really unfalsifiable?[edit]

With regards to the following paragraph in the article:

"Popper's falsificationism can be questioned logically, by asking about statements such as "There are black holes", which cannot be falsified by any possible observation, yet which seems to be a legitimately scientific claim. Similarly, it's not clear how Popper would deal with a statement like "for every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt", which can neither be confirmed nor falsified by any possible observation, yet which seems to be a valid scientific hypothesis. These examples were pointed out by Carl Gustav Hempel. Hempel came to acknowledge that Logical Positivism's verificationism was untenable, but argued that falsificationism was equally untenable on logical grounds alone..."

This section states as a matter of fact that "There are black holes" is an unfalsifiable statement. I, and many other scientists would, disagree. I think we should reword this to put forward Hempels criticisms but point out that these statements could in fact be considered falsifiable (see for example

Robnpov 21:52, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

The statement "there are black holes" is an unrestricted universal existential statement and isn't falsifiable. How do you falsify it? Unless you can verify that there are no black holes in every space-time region of the universe, you're not falsifying anything. Same goes with such statements as "there are neutrinos" (not capturing one doesn't mean they don't exist).
On the other hand, the statement "there are black holes" is verifiable. All you have to do is find a black hole. What GR does is predict that - given a large enough mass in a sufficiently small region of space - a black hole will form. (A potential falsifier would be a large enough mass in a sufficiently small region of space that does NOT form a black hole.)
That said, Popper never denies the importance of existential statements in science. What he emphasizes is that it is the background theory predicting black holes that is interesting: an untethered assertion that "there are XYZs" isn't really all that interesting on its own. In other words, it is of interest only insofar as it relates to the background theory behind the prediction. So for instance, the prediction that light will be deflected by a large enough mass like the sun is an interesting corroboration of GR. But the generalized existential statement "there are deflections of light" isn't scientifically interesting untethered to GR. 05:15, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
According to Popper, there is no verification. "there are black holes" cannot be verified because verification does not exist. However, "There is a black hole at the space-time region X" is a falsifiable statement which logically implies the unfalsifiable statement "there are black holes". Hence, the unfalsifiable statement "there are black holes" can be put into the framework of a falsifiable theory. The falsifiable does not exclude the unfalsifiable; it embraces and extends it! Please do not confuse falsification with positivism. Falsification is a negativist methodology! --rtc 03:29, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually, you're right. Even basic statements cannot be "verified" in the strong sense since every statement contains a universal. But I was referring to verification in the weak sense as used by Popper in L.Sc.D on p. 33. Careless wording to be sure, but I really wasn't suggesting anything positivistic about "verification" in that trivial sense. 13:44, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Can anyone prove that black holes or gravitational waves don't exist? Consider the fallacy of "proving non-existence: when an arguer cannot provide the evidence for his claims, he may challenge his opponent to prove it doesn't exist (e.g., prove God doesn't exist; prove UFO's haven't visited earth, etc.). Although one may prove non-existence in special limitations, such as showing that a box does not contain certain items, one cannot prove universal or absolute non-existence, or non-existence out of ignorance. One cannot prove something that does not exist. The proof of existence must come from those who make the claims.(See [2])"Lestrade 13:57, 21 October 2007 (UTC)Lestrade
Not sure what your point is. We're all aware that you can't prove a universal negative (such as "black holes don't exist"). What we can do is falsify such a negative claim if we accept a basic statement such as "here is a blackhole at spacetime region X" (if we accept this, then the claim "black holes don't exist" is false). That's a corollary of Popper's logical asymmetry between falsification and verification. 14:15, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Let me make my above statement more general: According to Popper, not only there is no verification in the strong sense, but there is no proof in the strong sense at all and consequently no disproof in the strong sense at all (not even in pure logic or pure mathematics), in fact he holds that there is no justification for accepting anything at all. Please note that Popper's position goes much further than it seems at first, because he rejects justificationism and also justificationist criticsm (If you criticize a claim, never attack the claim itself, always attack its justification), a position accepted by literally anyone, even by almost all professional philosophers. "Although one may prove non-existence in special limitations, such as showing that a box does not contain certain items, one cannot prove universal or absolute non-existence, or non-existence out of ignorance. One cannot prove something that does not exist. The proof of existence must come from those who make the claims" is a justificationist position (the whole fallacy page is, after all) and itself a fallacy; it makes the incorrect assumption that "one may prove non-existence in special limitations" (that is, it assumes that there is something that can be proved, while in fact it asks for a justification using exclusively the assumptions given by the one asking for this justification—it is only a coincidence here that the assumptions about boxes are usually uncontroversial and shared, but by no means proven or justified—just think about how many illusions magicians can produce about seemingly empty boxes that are in fact not empty and seeminly non-empty boxes that are in fact empty). So is "The proof of existence must come from those who make the claims"; it makes the unstated assumption that something like a "proof of existence" can exist at all, and that it is needed in the first place. "when an arguer cannot provide the evidence for his claims, he may challenge his opponent to prove it doesn't exist" is also clearly an artifact of justificationist criticsm; it asks the opponent to provide a justification for rejecting the claims. Popper would certainly improve this statement to 'Since there is never any evidence for our claims, let us instead ask each other to criticize them as severely as possible and by all means available to us; that is, to give the gift of criticism, since it can only be in our own interest to find out about errors we have made in our assumptions. The goal of discussion is not to convince or even to agree, but to understand each other and learn from each other about our mistakes.' Let Popper speak to you directly: "There are no such things as good positive reasons; nor do we need such things[...] [You] obviously cannot quite bring [your]self to believe that this is my opinion, let alone that it is right", do you? (The Philosophy of Karl Popper, p. 1043) Criticism is not justified, and there is simply no such thing as "evidence" or "scientific data" in the strong sense. That's why it is now also called "imaginative criticism" or "non-justificational criticism"; and for the thesis that criticism and justification can be separated without falling for relativism or dogmatism, read the literature in Pancritical rationalism. I also recommend you to read Bartley's excellent Rationality, Criticsm and Logic, especially sections XXI ("Theories of Demarcation Within the Justificationist Metacontext"), XXII ("A Popperian Shift in the Problem of Demarcation") and XXIII ("Two Problems of Demarcation"). --rtc 09:35, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Hi, yes. I'm quite aware of Bartley and Miller. You're preaching to the choir. Again, I don't mean to suggest anything untoward by using justificationist rubric while replying to someone on wikipedia. Attempting to couch it differently is just too radical a departure for some people and would need lengthy explication, as your own lengthy reply demonstrates. When I used his term "prove", I meant it the way he meant it - colloquially. Let's fight one battle at a time, eh? 13:04, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Sure; I didn't mean it as a reply to your posting; it was meant as an independent reply to Lestrade. I agree with you completely. However, so far, I simply did not yet meet someone for whom it was "just too radical a departure". In fact, I had the feeling that people understood me much better if I explained it to them in this general fashion. --rtc 13:20, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Just trying to inject some common sense here: Who would consider a statement like "There are black holes" to be a scientific theory, anyway? Theories usually don't consist of just one sentence, and for good reasons. Popper quite clearly says in "Science: Conjectures and Refutations" that a) he wasn't talking about any absolute statement about being able to prove or disprove something or even about the absolute truth of something ("nor a problem of truth"); b) the more specific a theory is, the higher its relative scientific status ("The more a theory forbids, the better it is."); and c) of course there are possible verifications ("Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory"). Point a) was rather well put by Richard Feynman in The meaning of it all, the relevant section is entitled "The uncertainty of science".
The upshot is: Hempel's criticisms are so ridiculously vague that of course they are unfalsifiable, because they make no discernible predictions. Had they been formulated according to the "the more it forbids" rule, it would have become quite obvious that they are undoubtedly scientific. E.g., "for every metal, there is a temperature between 0 °C and 5000 °C at which it will melt".
Peter Beattie (talk) 18:51, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Hempel vs Nagel[edit]

Similarly, it's not clear how Popper would deal with a statement like "for every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt", which can neither be confirmed nor falsified by any possible observation, yet which seems to be a valid scientific hypothesis. These examples were pointed out by Carl Gustav Hempel.

As far as i know the first to metion this problem was Nagel in a direct conversation with Popper. Besides i think that we should at least mention that in a statement like "for every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt" we are dealing with a mixed sentence. Popper, on the other hand, wouldnt consider mixed or existential sentences as being truly law-like sentences. Only universal sentences would be considered as such.

The statement "every metal will melt at at most x degrees" is falsifiable and it logically implies the unfalsifiable statement "for every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt". As I said above, "The falsifiable does not exclude the unfalsifiable". Your "valid scientific hypothesis" implies the positivistic account of knowledge, which holds that the meaning of a sentence is its method of verification and that scientific knowledge has special authority; that scientific knowledge can be validated or justified or verified or confirmed or legitimized in a way that other kinds of knowledge cannot. Popper did not share this view often attributed to him, especially by skeptics and the like. --rtc (talk) 14:02, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

His early Marxist political convictions[edit]

I am surprised to see that the introduction to this article did not contain the fact that, while he was a student, he became attracted by Marxism and became actively involved in the Social Democratic Party of Austria, which was, at that time, supporting the orthodox marxist ideology. The disillusionment that he soon felt about the philosophical constraints of historical materialism is crucial in his later works and beliefs. I have added this fact. Alexemanuel (talk) 12:40, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Adolf Grunbaum[edit]

It surprises me that this article does not mention Adolf Grunbaum's criticisms of Popper, and particularly his approach to psychoanalysis. This is a significant omission that ought to be remedied. Skoojal (talk) 07:48, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

The stanford articles are there for a reason. I think that the 3 criticisms of Popper in that article should be rewritten for this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:20, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Disambiguation - 'World Three' Search Term[edit]

I did a Wikipedia search for the three worlds concept by searching for 'World Three' and was taken to an article on a video game. Would it be possible to disambiguate 'World Three' to include the Karl Popper article, or am I the only one to have done this? (talk) 23:17, 29 July 2008 (UTC)


I think Popper's philosophy owe a considerable influence from the rationalist foundations enunciated by Rene Descartes, he should be mentioned in the "influenced by" in the infobox. Wandering Courier (talk) 19:29, 22 February 2009 (UTC)


I was surprised to find this in the piece:

Popper addressed the psychological causes of our belief in the validity of induction without trying to provide logical reasons for it. In this way, he provided a psychological account of the use of induction, but left the philosophical ground of induction as a valid mode of knowledge unaccounted for.

Surely Popper reasons that there is no validity of induction - in science at least. It is not a valid, scientific mode of knowledge. This section should be re-written by someone not antagonistic to his ideas. Myrvin (talk) 14:00, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Made the change Myrvin (talk) 19:29, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
All scientific conclusions are based on inductive inferences (e.g., the inference that the law of gravity holds everywhere in the universe, including places we haven't directly observed--i.e., the principle of uniformity applies). So induction is, by immediate consequence, assumed to be a valid mode of knowledge in any scientific conclusion. Thus, Popper's psychological justification of the validity of induction, as a pragmatic measure, doesn't address the philosophical problem of induction as stated by Hume, Russell, et al. Popper's treatment of induction leaves "the philosophical ground of induction as a valid mode of knowledge unaccounted for". (talk) 08:01, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
I think your use of "assumed" is telling here. I think Popper would say that scientific conclusions are not based on induction, but all 'accepted' theories are assumptions we make, for the time being, after thoroughly testing them. By the way, I'm not sure that physicists do infer that the law of gravity holds everywhere; I doubt if they even assume it: Does it apply inside black holes? Does it apply at the sub-atomic scale? I still say that Popper says that induction is not a valid mode of knowledge. Myrvin (talk) 19:03, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Someone ( has removed a reference to Hume stating that "Hume didn't deny that the inductive principle could be logically justified--he specifically asked what that justification might be" - As if Hume suspected it could be logically justified but admitted that he wasn't up to the task. When Hume writes in the Enquiry: "But if you insist that the inference is made by a chain of reasoning, I desire you to produce that reasoning. The connexion between these propositions is not intuitive. There is required a medium, which may enable the mind to draw such an inference, if indeed it be drawn by reasoning and argument. What that medium is, I must confess, passes my comprehension; and it is incumbent on those to produce it, who assert that it really exists", he is not asking someone cleverer to do the job for him; he is denying that it can be done. Popper agrees with him wholeheartedly. Myrvin (talk) 07:20, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Popper's refutation of induction, paralleling Hume's, is that no number of Individual Statements (observations) can prove a General Statement (a law or theory) (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Chapter 1 'The Problem of Induction', "To justify it [induction], we should have to employ inductive inferences; and to justify these we should have to assume an inductive principle of a higher order; and so on. Thus the attempt to base the principle of induction on experience breaks down, since it must lead to an infinite regress.") No matter how many white swans one sees, that is no logical proof that all swans are white. A reasonable hypothesis to extrapolate, but not proof. From the hypothesis (theory, universal statement) "All Swans are White" one can DEDUCE "There are no black swans", a falsifiable scientific statement. That the Laws of Gravity apply to distant galaxies is a deduced (not induced) prediction from the Law of Gravity. Inferences can be inductive or deductive. Popper cites Hume's demonstration that inductive proof is not possible outside tautological systems (like mathematics and formal logic) in Conjectures and Refutations, ch 8 "On the Status of Science and Metaphysics".

As for scientific conclusions being based on induction: wrong. Scientific conclusions are based on observation, observation that contradicts or confirms a DEDUCED prediction. If the deduced prediction is wrong, the Theory from which the deduction was made is refuted (assuming the observations were accurate and that the deductive process was valid.) If the observation accords with prediction, the theory is strengthened by having survived a challenge but it is not proved in any sense.

That is Popper's whole point, and his arguments are pretty strong. Doesn't mean he is right, but the citing of popular myths about the Scientific Method does not refute him. --Idanort (talk) 06:27, 24 June 2012 (UTC)


The paragraph about Apel's criticism of Popper needs expanding. The sentence: "Apel charged Popper with being guilty of, amongst other things, a pragmatic contradiction" needs explaining. What is this "contradiction", and what are the "other things"? Myrvin (talk) 20:51, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

I took a look at the page for Apel, which contains nearly identical language, with a more complete citation. However, the citation looks poor; it appears to not be of Apel's own work, but a commentary on his work by other authors. Here are the supporting quotes from the citation:
"In an essay, Karl-Otto Apel based his argument upon his refutation of the theses of Karl Popper."
This supplies no detail on the claimed refutation.
"For Karl-Otto Apel, to say that everything must be criticized and revised is to make reason impotent, without a foundation, and to be in a position of pragmatic contradiction ..."
This appears to be where the "pragmatic contradiction" language comes from, although the details of the argument are absent.
"Contrary to the affirmations of Karl Popper or Jurgen Habermas, we cannot therefore philosophically validate the critical principle, if we apply it to everything."
This looks like the "Popper's argument is not itself falsifiable." argument to me. But, I don't think Popper ever claimed that philosophical validation was the same thing as scientific validation. Docfaraday (talk) 21:46, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Poker Tossing[edit]

The following is not really a criticism and so does not belong in the 'Other Criticisms' section:

"Ludwig Wittgenstein once tossed a poker at his fellow philosopher Karl Popper at a meeting of the Cambridge Moral Science Club as they argued about whether issues in philosophy were real or just linguistic puzzles.[17][18]"

Also, I don't think the poker was actually 'tossed', only 'brandished'. Reference 17, which appears to be included in support of the 'tossing', is a newspaper article in which Wittgenstein and Popper are mentioned only in passing, and hardly constitutes a reliable source. TristramBrelstaff (talk) 21:58, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

I agree - it isn't really criticism. However, neither are a couple of other points in the same section - they seem more like trivia. Maybe we could lump the criticisms in the main section on criticism, and have another section about trivia? The poker story seems like an interesting historical anecdote to add to the article, but not in the section as it is titled. SnehaNar (talk) 23:59, 16 April 2011 (UTC)


If people who watch this page are also interested in how Wikipedia is governed, be sure to check out this: . Slrubenstein | Talk 13:32, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Dubious tag discussed[edit]

A paragraph in the section "Criticism of his philosophy of science" has been tagged 'dubious' -- because I just rechecked the mentioned chapters 3-4 of 'Logic of Scientific Discovery' -- given as alleged source -- and these chapters don't appear to contain any of the material offered in this paragraph in the article, nor its equivalent. Particularly unsupported, in the alleged source, is the material about the selection process and the preference for theories that say more, etc. (Quotations, please, if that is disagreed.) Also, Popper himself, as far as my reading goes, did not use the phrase 'naive falsificationism' that occurs in the paragraph: that was a term brought in by his successors/critics. It looks as if the tagged paragraph, contrary to what it claims, does not give Popper's actual view, it reports instead what somebody else (uncited) wanted to believe that Popper said. Instead of presenting that as a third-party view, the paragraph presents it as if it were Popper. (Perhaps the third party was Imre Lakatos? -- he actually did use the phrase 'naive falsificationism'.) Terry0051 (talk) 10:15, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

I was reading Popper here the other day and, to tell you the truth, I would state that Popper actually says the contrary of what reads in here.

Theories that say more about the way things appear are to be preferred over those that do not; the more generally applicable a theory is, the greater its value. Thus Newton’s laws, with their wide general application, are to be preferred over the much more specific “the solar system has seven planets”.

Popper writes on p. 61 of Conjectures and Refutations (3rd revised edition): "the simpler theory has always a higher degree of testability than the more complicated one." This leads to a conclusion that Popper would say the contrary to what is stated in here, namely, that the "goodness" of a theory is not defined by its generality but by its simplicity as this simple system is easier to test. And the word simple is not here a reference to saying little, but by being in a form that is simple for everyone to test. Hence, Einstein's relativity theory is simple whereas Marx's theory of history is not.
Certainly, Popper suggests that when we have a number of theories that are explaining the same phenomenon, we should prefer the one that goes furthest into the realm of probable, and, as such, makes the most falsifiable claim. On Preface p. vii to Conjectures and Refutations (3rd revised edition) Popper writes: "Since none of them [theories] can be positively justified, it is essentially their critical and progressive character--the fact that we can argue about their claim to solve our problems better than their competitors--which constitutes the rationality of science." Therefore a rule that says that out of two possible indefinite articles of English language one uses "a" with word "dog", albeit right, is not prefered over a theory that states something more general in nature, e.g., that an indefinite article "a" is used before all nouns that start with a consonant or a vowel that is pronounced as a consonant. This is not because the latter claim would be more right or more testable but because its claim is stronger and there are more instances to show it wrong. Therefore, I'd say that the use of word general in here is something of an oxymoron as general theory of everything that would not place a falsifiable claim, would not be too good of a theory vis-a-vis Popper's view. Maybe this is the source of concern in here, the word general, as it can easily guide thoughts to think of those theories that Popper actually does criticise for being too general, vague, and therefore applicable to everything without much of a problem. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:57, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Simplicity is generality, as to postulate a different origin for each phenomena in any given set would undeniably a more complicated theory than a singular origin. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:09, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

This migh help -

"We want more than mere truth: what we look for is interesting truth -- truth which is hard to come by. And in the natural sciences (as distinct from mathematics) what we look for is truth with a high degree of explanatory power, in a sense in which it implies that it is logically improbable truth"

Conjectures and refutations (3rd edition) p311.

Naive Falisification might have been coined later on, but he did make a distinction between what became known as naive falsification and and his own stance very early on in the Logic Of Scientific Discovery. And which also addressed the Duhem-quine problem - in chapter 10 - (before it was even known as the duhem-quine problem).

"Popper writes on p. 61 of Conjectures and Refutations (3rd revised edition): "the simpler theory has always a higher degree of testability than the more complicated one." This leads to a conclusion that Popper would say the contrary to what is stated in here, namely, that the "goodness" of a theory is not defined by its generality but by its simplicity as this simple system is easier to test."

Fact/inference confusion. Popper is simply pointing out that a simple theory is easier to test, nothing contentious there, not that it is to be prefered. The "goodness" of a theory is its explanatory power, it does not matter how simple or complicated it is, just so long as it can be tested and it has high degree of explanatory power.


If he wasn't a Knight Bachelor - as suggested by the now reversed edit - what was he a Sir for? Myrvin (talk) 12:23, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Problem of Induction[edit]

What on Earth does this last line mean?: "He also managed successfully to institute proper debate practices and develop competencies as envisaged by Karl Popper." Myrvin (talk) 09:18, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Makes no sense to me either . Its probably a fragment from earlier edits. I have removed it. Lumos3 (talk) 10:44, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Reasons for "Not a good article"?[edit]


I see at the top of the page that this article was delisted from the Good articles category. Does anybody know if any specific reasons were given? -- Imalbornoz (talk) 10:46, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Three reasons: 1. Citations 2. Citations 3. Citations. This article has almost none, so its rigor cannot be verified. It may need re-writing, unless the original contributor(s) come back & include citations. ZoomaBaresAll (talk) 21:50, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Citations in "Philosophy of Science" section[edit]

This section is very good, apart from having no citations. It seems to be a summary of Popper and might constitute original research (OR), which invites the question of how best summarize philosophers, since doing so is an interpretive act and is, ipso facto, OR, whether it wants to be or not. This idea of "no OR" probably needs some modification: we're going to be stuck with OR in philosophy articles, so we might as well develop a theoretical framework that lays down guidelines as to what constitutes an acceptable level of rigor. Otherwise, we'll be forced to quote and/or plagiarize other summaries, which would put us at two removes from the source material. Original research, however difficult, would eliminate the copying-fidelity problems associated with summarizing summaries, making, as it were, a copy of a copy. OR at least has the virtue of being a copy of the original. I realize this goes against Wikipedian orthodoxy, but I think it resolves what amounts to a fairly large problem. ZoomaBaresAll (talk) 18:27, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

Influenced by Socrates ("via Plato")?[edit]

If Wikipedia is ever to get higher standards and academic ratings it needs to stop the ridiculously mundane and nonsensical descriptive processes such as this. -- How else would anyone not alive when Socrates was, be influenced by him except "via Plato!?!?" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Carlon (talkcontribs) 14:39, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Darwinism - New edit[edit]

There is an addition to the section on Darwinism that seems rather unlikely. I have put a citation request on it.Myrvin (talk) 15:30, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

My reply is here [3] :-) --DoostdarWKP (talk) 15:38, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

This section is becoming confusing. It seems to me that all the large quotes - except the first (for which we have no citation)- ultimately come from the same source, Popper's talk: Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind, Delivered at Darwin College, Cambridge, November 8, 1977. [4] So speaking of later or updated views needs to be read with caution. Ref 16 comes from someone quoting the source and 17 is a reprint. I've found reprints of the first large quote, but not the original. Still looking. Myrvin (talk) 15:31, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Aha! His term "metaphysical research programme" to describe Darwinism, seems to be used first in P's "Unended Quest", ch.37 - first published, under another title, in 1974. He had used the term before, he notes, but not obviously about Natural Selection. He writes it is a "possible framework for testable scientific theories". And immediately goes on to say: "Yet there is more to it." The first quote ("Darwinism...") and the large quote ("And yet ....") are from here too. So ref 16 and 17 ARE 'later', but only by, at most, 3 years. I'll put the citation on the first quotes. Myrvin (talk) 16:11, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it might be only 3 or 4 years. By the new view I meant what he had in mind about "I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection". And yes, he meant a tautology from a purely logical point of view, but quite informative and useful from a "research direction" point of view.--DoostdarWKP (talk) 08:39, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
The words including 'refuted' actually appear in this quote: "In its most daring and sweeping form, the theory of natural selection would assert that all organisms, and especially all those highly complex organs whose existence might be interpreted as evidence of design and, in addition, all forms of animal behavior, have evolved as the result of natural selection; that is, as the result of chance-like inheritable variations, of which the useless ones are weeded out, so that only the useful ones remain. If formulated in this sweeping way, the theory is not only refutable, but actually refuted." Which I don't think is quite what is suggested in the article. Myrvin (talk) 19:55, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Umm. I have removed this because it was repetitive: as you can see in the quotation "The theory of natural selection may be so formulated that it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be not strictly universally true", he says the same thing. This was my understanding. So I have removed it as the easiest way to arrive at an agreement.--DoostdarWKP (talk) 08:34, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Undergraduate studies[edit]

What did Popper study as an undergraduate? Could someone add something on this?

Regards to all, Notreallydavid (talk) 19:43, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

I think he studied psychology.

Philosophy of arithmetic[edit]

I wanted to add some Wikilinks to this new section. However, Philosophy of mathematics doesn't talk about realism and constructivism in the same way. Also, Mathematical constructivism doesn't seem to agree either. Perhaps we need some other words, or at least a citation for the assertion that: "In the philosophy of mathematics there are two main theories about the nature of mathematical truth. Simply put, realist theories state that mathematical truths are discovered while contructivist theories state that mathematical truths are invented, like the rules of chess, and true by definition. Realist and constructivist theories are normally taken to be contraries." Myrvin (talk) 14:29, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Good point Myrvin. A citation to back up my sweeping statement would be a good idea. Normally I would go into more details but I was trying to keep the new section short. The Philosophy of mathematics article is rather disjointed and constructivism is on a separate page, so you are correcting saying that it does not, in any obvious way, support my generalization. I'll try to find something in the literature, but this might take some time. Thanks for the comment. --Logicalgregory (talk) 15:31, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
Constructivist Errett Bishop considered himself a realist. Tkuvho (talk) 15:47, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

I have a book on the Phil of Maths. A short article by H Curry says "There are three principal types of opinion ... realism, idealism, and formalism." I found it also in Google books: [5]. Myrvin (talk) 20:13, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Yes. I do not think talking about schools of thought, or types of position, is going to work on the Popper page. I re-read Popper's paper today and he made no mention of realism, contructivism, idealism or formalism. I'll re-write the section leaving out the term "realism" and "constructivism". Instead I will limit myself to paraphrasing what Popper actually said on the subject. I started a new section about Popper on the Philosophy of mathematics page, so how his ideas fit in the the other positions can be discussed there (this will also need a re-write). Thanks for the input. --Logicalgregory (talk) 13:26, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Conservative creationists etc[edit]

Editor User:Public awareness removed the words 'conservative' and 'liberal' from the sentence:

a political debate that is mainly fought between conservative creationists and liberal naturalists

Editor User:Noclador put them back without explanation. I think there needs to be a mini debate about this, so I have taken them out again. Perhaps the original writer of these adjectives didn't mean them to be political. If they are (and they look it) then Public awareness has a point with:

lines connecting politcal views and religous thinking are weak, there are many conservatives who are scientists too

The phrase 'conservative creationists' suggests there are creationists who are not conservatives and who and are not on their side of the debate. Perhaps they are 'liberal creationists'. Myrvin (talk) 06:55, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

No critical views at all?[edit]

This is what most amuses me about wikipedia. Articles about controversial persons that don't cover the controversy at all. Seriously, Poppers own students used to refer to his grand opus as "The Open Society, written by its Greatest Opponent", because of his trenchant ability to not acknowledge any minor reflection on a trivial point of fact. -- (talk) 18:31, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Could you give some specific examples, please? -- WillNess (talk) 21:08, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

criticism section or defense?[edit]

The criticism section begins with and is dominated by a paragraph defending Popper's argument ("In interpreting these, it is important to bear in mind"). Should this even be in the criticism section or somewhere else? I find it amusing how before a criticism is even made, a counter argument has already been made with the intention of discrediting the criticism. This is not right. This is meant to persuade the reader more than anything else. Why not state the criticisms FIRST? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:23, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Error in Criticism section[edit]

Two paragraphs above the "Other Criticism" heading is this: 'Popper's falsificationism can be questioned logically: it is not clear how Popper would deal with a statement like "for every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt." The hypothesis cannot be falsified by any possible observation, for there will always be a higher temperature than tested at which the metal may in fact melt, yet it seems to be a valid scientific hypothesis.'

Actually, it is quite clear how Popper would deal with the unfalsifiable statement "for every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt": it is not a scientific statement. (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, chapter 6 'Falsifiability as a Criterion of Demarcation') That is the whole point of his criterion of demarcation as described earlier in the article in section 2.1.1, "Falsifiability." The statement may be true, it may be possible to verify it exhaustively (there are only 118 elements - though there might be more, I guess) but it is a metaphysical statement or a simple statement of fact, an observation statement; it is not a scientific assertion or theory, according to Popper. Hence, the point is not critical of Popper's assertions. It is irrelevant.

The article cites Carl Gustav Hempel as the source of the criticism. I am not familiar with Hempel's work, so do not know if he even understood Popper, nor if he had logically valid criticisms. If he did, the one cited is not one of them.

--Idanort (talk) 04:38, 24 June 2012 (UTC)IdanortIdanort (talk) 04:38, 24 June 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Idanort (talkcontribs) 04:32, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Inaccuracy in image description[edit]

The grave of Sir Karl Popper is not located "near", but in Vienna. In the 13th district of the City of Vienna to be precise. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:49, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

Criticism: Positivism dispute[edit]

Seriously? Such a long article on Popper's work and its criticisms, and not a single mention of the Positivism dispute between Popper and Adorno, where each considered the other's approach doomed to utter failure from the very first axioms onwards? -- (talk) 22:59, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Changes to Criticisms[edit]

I have reverted the recent move here. I don't really understand why it was done, even though I can see that there are some odd entries here. Certainly putting Wittgenstein's poker above other more serious issues seems very strange. I actually think that W's poker isn't a criticism of Popper at all. The reason why W brandished a poker - if he did - may be. Myrvin (talk) 13:41, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

I have merged the two sub-sections. They are all PofSc. And I removed W's poker and the reference to Lakatos. See above for W; and the Lakatos ref wasn't a criticism.Myrvin (talk) 14:50, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

I have removed the following:

William W. Bartley wrote: "Sir Karl Popper is not really a participant in the contemporary professional philosophical dialogue; quite the contrary, he has ruined that dialogue. If he is on the right track, then the majority of professional philosophers the world over have wasted or are wasting their intellectual careers. The gulf between Popper's way of doing philosophy and that of the bulk of professional philosophers is as great as that between astronomy and astrology."[1]

It was originally put in as a defence of Popper, but it reads like a criticism. I don't see how the man who co-wrote (if it is he) a book with Popper would make such a criticism - unless it is somehow ironic. This should be checked by someone who can access the reference. Myrvin (talk) 14:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

The more I read this, the more it looks like something of a positive reference to Popper. I think the "bulk of professional philosophers" are meant to be the astrologers and Popper is the astronomer. He "ruined that dialogue" by turning the standard view of epistemology on its head. I still don't see why it was a defence of Popper in the place it was originally put. Myrvin (talk) 11:58, 31 October 2013 (UTC)


I reverted these edits once again. Note that there is simply no such thing as a method of falsifiability in Popper's philosophy; that is a misunderstanding. Popper's proposed method was to perform tests, not to state that something is, or is not, testable. The latter, in fact, is positivist thinking, reworded in Popper's terminology, by replacing the word "verifiable" with the word "falsifiable". The goal of Popper's method is not to justify theories as being scientific, but to find out about the truth, which means asking "is it true?", not "is it falsifiable?". Falsifiability is obviously a precondition for falsification, but that is no concession to the modern use of falsifiability as a way to "define" science and to criticize views for their lack of falsifiability. This is not Popper's use and should neither be described as such, nor should it be suggested that it is somehow the same. According to Popper, falsification is merely one among several methods of rational criticism. (thus, it is wrong to change "rather that, if it is false, it can be shown by observation or experiment" -- emphasis added -- into "but that it is possible to make tests capable of revealing that something is false".) Note that the quote ".. not the verifiability but the falsifiability of a system is to be taken as a criterion of demarcation ... it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience." does not back the claim. The quoted text presents falsifiability as a criterion of demarcation, not a method. Further, it is talking about an empirical scientific system. The emphasis has to be put on the word empirical, not on the word scientific. The myth of the "method" of falsifiability is rooted in the fact that in some unimportant passages of Logic of Scientific Discovery, Popper erroneously assumed that unfalsifiable statements cannot be rationally discussed. The current editions have footnotes added in which Popper clearly states that this assumption was incorrect. --rtc (talk) 14:28, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Religion Lutheranism (de jure) Humanitarianism and Agnosticism (de facto)?[edit]

Can anyone explain how Popper was a 'de jure' Lutherian, as it claims in the infobox? Which law was involved in making this determination? He appears to have been baptised as a Lutherian, but I can't see how this would establish any enduring legal status. AndyTheGrump (talk) 17:42, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Somebody misusing the tag? Let's change it. Myrvin (talk) 16:50, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
In Austrian law, churches and religions with many members are organized as De:Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts, in effect being part of the state but cut off from almost all secular power. Membership in those bodies is attained by baptism (or whatever formal act the religion specifies), this membership is a legal status and has legal consequences. For example, the bodies can pass laws that apply to their members with respect to their internal affairs. Having said that, I think the current version is okay, too. --rtc (talk) 01:27, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

"part of their cultural assimilation, not as an expression of devout belief"[edit]

Wow, that is really offensive. Bunch of jerks. (talk) 18:52, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

How about a spelling standard?[edit]

The article has both "defence" and "maneuvers".
It has "behaviour" and "behavior".
Could it have a single standard, like UK (Cambridge) or UK (Oxford)?
So, "defence", "manoeuvres", "behaviour". (talk) 18:55, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing this out, we should comply with WP:ENGVAR and in this article consistently use UK spellings, with one standard being chosen for the article. I'se happier with Cambridge, but Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Spelling allows either so as long as it's consistent throughout the article... dave souza, talk 21:08, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
I've done some of this. I left one "behavior" because I think it was in a US quote. Myrvin (talk) 09:14, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
I'm Canadian, but I too prefer Cambridge, in spite of Oxford's similarity to Canadian standards.
Respecting a source's spelling seems reasonable to everyone outside of the US. The Americans routinely rename places in Canada to match their spelling. They think we have "Harbors" and "Centers" in this country which we bloody well do not.
It is perfectly allowable to normalize (Cdn, Oxford) "behavior" as "behavio[u]r" to make it crystal clear that a standard is in force.
In Toronto, (talk) 15:21, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Influenced by: Hegel ???[edit]

Let me put it this way: Quite unlikely (unless you want to interpret his polemic against Hegel as a sign that Popper was "influenced" by him).-- (talk) 00:48, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Putting this back in. In Popper's later metaphysical works (see especially Objective Knowledge, chapter 3, section 5.2), he gave qualified support to Hegel's views. Let me quote literally from Objective Knowledge, chapter 8, section 2: "My various schemata such as P1 TT EE P2 may indeed be looked upon as improvements and rationalizations of the Hegelian dialectic schema" --rtc (talk) 00:32, 3 July 2014 (UTC)


The article and a couple of sources say this man's name was RAIMUND Grubl, and Popper was given his name as his middle name. However, in Unended Quest, Popper writes that this man's name was CARL Grubl. Does anyone know which is correct? - You'd think that Karl would know. Perhaps he was called Karl after Carl?? 08:35, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Conjectures and Refutations deletion[edit]

Recently I went to a page (a stub, really) with this Popper book title, and found that the bulk of the article text had been cribbed directly from the back cover of a Routledge edition of this volume (see below). I addressed the issue as best I could as an editor, to call attention to the issue, here [6] and in the article. I apparently did so too effectively—the article has been deleted in toto. (See also this edit: [].) I am transplanting the brief bit of the article's Talk here, from this page, anticipating it will be found and face the same fate as the article. This is all FYI, but followed with one request: Can C&R not be given its own subsection, within the article, so it can be linked to in other articles? Thanks for the consideration, and for all the dedicated hard work at this parent article. Le Prof 05:53, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

On Influence: Wittgenstein[edit]

On the german wikipedia, it quotes him comparing Wittgenstein with the catholic church, with him stating that he (Wittgenstein) tries to forbib any discussion about questions he (Wittgenstein) can't answer. Copied from german wikipedia (Source): "In Poppers mündlicher Doktorprüfung (Rigorosum) 1928 war Schlick Beisitzer, wobei es zum Streit kam, da Popper nach Schlicks Auffassung überzogene Kritik an dem von Schlick geschätzten Ludwig Wittgenstein übte; dieser wolle „wie die katholische Kirche die Diskussion sämtlicher Fragen verbieten, auf die er keine Antwort wisse“<ref>vgl. unter anderem Edmonds/Eidinow 2005</ref>."
So we can say that he was, at least early in his career, highly dismissive about Wittgenstein.
Has anyone sources that he changed his mind about him later on? (talk) 19:51, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

We'll Wittgenstein did change his mind later on.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:16, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
He did, but did Popper? :/ -- (talk) 14:10, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
Lets just remove him as an influence in absence of sources to the contrary.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 14:59, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

Students or workers or comrades[edit]

After a deletion of some uncited text by me, and its replacement by referenced material, an editor has reinstated and expanded the deleted words with referenced statements. However, that reinstatement has deleted my cited text. My words said that students took part in a demonstration in 1919 and some were killed, the latest reference [7] seem to be saying that workers marched and were shot. The reference also says that opper didn't know about the coup. I cannot see where it says he later found out. Earlier on in the text, we have "party comrades" in a "street battle". Popper himself says "But then came the catastrophe. One day in June 1919 a Party-sponsored demonstration of unarmed young comrades was fired upon by the police, and there were a number of deaths (eight if I remember rightly)."[8]. I suppose they could all be true, but there does seem to be confusion here. Myrvin (talk) 09:36, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

"I cannot see where it says he later found out." This is in fact from a different source, not yet cited: "In the aftermath, Popper learned that the protest was designed as part of a coup plotted by the Austrian Communists in cooperation with and under the influence of Bela Kun, the Hungarian Communist leader."[9] However, this secondary source does not provide a primary source for its claim. It may well be that the author read but misunderstood Hacohen. On the other hand, Hacohen does not make it explicit whether "[Popper] did not realize that it was part of a coup" refers to the demonstration or to his break with communism. So as you say, it could all be true. Unfortunately, Hacohen cites a draft of the autobiography which I don't have... On the other hand, it would not change Popper's point very much. He clearly says the demonstration was "instigated by the communists .. to help some communists to escape" and "Marxist theory demands that the class struggle be intensified" (Unended Quest p.32f). Perhaps we better mention the attempted coup without implying that Popper found out about it? I am not sure. --rtc (talk) 10:54, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
He certainly can't get his name right. Myrvin (talk)
That's true, so I don't think the source can be considered reliable. --rtc (talk) 20:56, 11 July 2014 (UTC)