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Rethinking Popper Papers Comments

Preserving the authority of reason, Popper can...
The authority of reason is a contradiction.


Thus an author [like Popper] may be a privileged interpreter [of his own writing] but he is not necessarily reliable, infallible, the last word, or anything like that.
Why is a Popper conference paper claiming there exist privileged sources of knowledge (sometimes)?

Popper was essentially right about verification and passive induction : the former is inaccessible, outside formal sciences, and the latter is a myth
Why is a Popperian conference paper saying verification is possible (sometimes), and claiming further that that was Popper's view?
And we should certainly prefer the hypothesis that resists to our best criticisms better than the others do.
Why does he think we have a way to judge how good a theory is? And on a continuum, it sounds like. Popper offered no such technique.

What Popper offered is the idea that we can reject theories with even one false consequence. There's no continuum of falsity, they are just false, end of story. If criticism leaves us with exactly one remaining theory, then we should tentatively adopt it.

BTW that may sound implausible or unlikely to happen to have exactly one viable theory at some time. It isn't because there are techniques for ending up with exactly one theory, though I don't recall Popper ever explaining them.

Moreover, it is Popper, not Rawls, who identifies and emphasizes the connection between justice and full employment.
I don't remember reading that and it has no citation. Can anyone provide a cite?
Rawls’s method reflects his recognition that a strong moral conviction about a particular action or institution—e.g., slavery, sexism—may override the appeal of an otherwise appealing moral principle
What does it mean for an idea to override an idea? Either it refutes it, or it doesn't. I think this concept is incoherent.
Popper the first anti-foundationalist philosopher in the analytic tradition
But Popper was not an analytic philosopher. He criticized analytic philosophy.


This paper begins by explaining liberalism. However, it never mentions tradition (except negatively in passing). I would summarize the liberal attitude as about optimistic reform of existing knowledge (traditions), and contrast it with conservatism (keeping traditions unchanged) and radicalism or utopianism (which does not value tradition and try to reform it, but instead ignores it and is happy to start from scratch). When a supposed liberal has nothing good to say about tradition, I fear he is actually a radical. Popper himself certainly had good things to say about tradition, and a Popperian should know that.

The paper focusses more on liberalism as being about freedom, individualism, justice, and humanitarianism. But many conservatives and radicals are in favor of all of those things. So how can they be the defining characteristics of liberalism? Further, many liberals accept restrictions on freedom and the other things. This paper approvingly points out that Popper accepts restrictions on freedom later.
neoliberals and libertarians consider free market as a kind of scientific certainty
One can adopt fallibilism and be a free market libertarian, like me. The paper contains no argument that one cannot, just this alienating assertion.

The paper goes on to attack religion. I don't think it's a good idea for a Popper conference paper — and ironically one about liberalism, which is supposed to advocate tolerance — to be intolerant of views held by many Popperians. It'd be better to focus on things agreeable to Popperians.

A better, more Popperian way to criticize libertarianism or religion would be to consider what problem they are trying to solve, what they get right, what they get wrong, and how they can be improved, instead of being hostile to them. It is unliberal to be hostile to fellow liberals instead of trying to work together.

Popperian Selectionism and Its Implications for Education, or ‘What to Do About the Myth of Learning by Instruction from Without?’
That's the title.
Although Popper was vehemently opposed to the discussion of words and their meaning (Popper, 1992[1974], § 7), my experience in talking about learning with educationists has led me to accompany any exposition of a Popperian view of learning with what I term an evolutionary definition. I propose that learning is best defined as
Swann acknowledges doing something Popper was "vehemently opposed to". She spends four consecutive paragraphs doing it. The only reason for opposing Popper that she provides is an appeal to experience which she claims "led" her. But experience does not lead people: that is the myth of instruction from without, the very myth her paper criticizes.
The process itself is not entirely conscious, so you will not be aware of more than a few aspects of it.
It does not follow from a claim that X is not entirely Y that little of X is Y.
A criticism, even if valid, may be inappropriate if ultimately it serves to stifle creativity and inhibit further trial and error-elimination
How does critically seeking the truth stifle truth seeking?
What is at issue here is a choice between two competing theories. One proposes that ‘No learning takes place by instruction from without’, the other that ‘Some learning takes place by instruction from without’. Although both theories are about events in the world, neither has the potential to be refuted by reference to empirical evidence.
Although we don't know how to test the theories today, surely we will in the future. They are theories about the mechanisms by which some physical objects function. Why would that be impossible to test by observing those physical objects?
The function of the brain is to select and create; it has no means of taking in information
The Popperian position is the brain cannot directly take in knowledge. Of course it does take in information through the senses. But that information is not useful until it is processed and interpreted. I am at a loss as to how someone can think the brain does not take in any information at all. The paper does not include any arguments for this proposition, though there is a cite.

Elliot Temple on October 1, 2009

Messages (2)

"The Popperian position is the brain cannot directly take in knowledge. Of course it does take in information through the senses. But that information is not useful until it is processed and interpreted."

That's also Ayn Rand's position, as far as I understand. What did she get wrong?

Anonymous at 7:25 AM on October 12, 2009 | #1915 | reply | quote

I don't really understand the question pointing out Rand agrees with me about something, then asking about her being wrong.

Elliot Temple at 1:35 AM on October 22, 2014 | #2405 | reply | quote

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