Image: Karl Popper

Karl Popper (1902-1994)

Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-born British philosopher of science, known for his theory of scientific method and for his criticism of historical determinism. Karl Raimund Popper was born in Vienna and received a Ph.D. degree from Vienna University in 1928. Although not a member of the so-called Vienna school of philosophy ( "see "Positivism), Popper was sympathetic with their scientific attitude, but critical of certain of their beliefs. From 1937 to 1945 he taught at Canterbury University, New Zealand, and then at the University of London.

Popper`s most significant contribution

Popper`s most significant contribution to the philosophy of science was his characterization of the scientific method. In "The Logic of Scientific Discovery" (1934; trans. 1959), he criticized the prevailing view that science is fundamentally inductive in nature. Proposing a criterion of testability, or falsifiability, for scientific validity, Popper emphasized the hypothetico-deductive character of science. Scientific theories are hypotheses from which can be deduced statements testable by observation; if the appropriate experimental observations falsify these statements, the hypothesis is refuted. If a hypothesis survives efforts to falsify it, it may be tentatively accepted. No scientific theory, however, can be conclusively established.

In "The Open Society and Its Enemies"

In "The Open Society and Its Enemies" (1945), Popper defended democracy and advanced objections to the totalitarian implications of the political theories of Plato and Karl Marx. He criticized the view that discoverable laws of the development of history render its future course inevitable and thus predictable.

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