[Marxism] Re: Popper

Mike Friedman mikedf at mail.amnh.org
Fri Dec 31 09:48:01 MST 2004

The question is, why should we accept Popper's framework for assessing what 
is or is not scientific? I would argue that testing scientific propositions 
shouldn't be -- and in practice isn't -- limited to falsification. Popper 
rejected ALL historical sciences as non-scientific on the basis of their 
alleged non-falsifiability. That was his major gripe against Marxism, 
which, as someone pointed out, Cornforth did a pretty good job of 
repudiating. And yes, I see a problem with relegating a "theory" to the 
realm of philosophy, as essentially faith that is incapable of apprehending 
the world. But, yes, Virginia, evolution is science. In science, a theory 
is not what it is in popular parlance. It is one or a set of well-supported 
hypotheses. Actually, under mounting evidence that he was off the wall on 
this, Popper backed away from his initial position -- without ever 
rejecting it -- that evolution was not a scientific theory. He backed away 
from this precisely on the weight of evidence and argumentation provided by 
Ernst Mayr and others. He acknowledged the science in evolution but not in 
Darwinian natural selection. But, Popper was off on this, too. Natural 
selection HAS been subject to experimentation and is falsifiable.

At 10:40 AM 12/31/2004, you wrote:
>Message: 6
>Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 10:30:22 +0000
>From: "paul illich" <paul_illich at hotmail.com>
>Subject: [Marxism] Re: Popper
>To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
>Message-ID: <BAY17-F37108AF1F88928037CAB7F939D0 at phx.gbl>
>Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
>Mike & Nestor wrote
> >>Respuesta a: [Marxism] evolution, species concepts, final word
> >>Remitido por: Mike Friedman
> >>Fecha: Miércoles 29 de Diciembre de 2004 Hora: 22:53
> >>
> >>Popper considered evolution to
> >>be non-scientific, because he felt it was non-falsifiable
> >I have always wondered whether Popper was an ape. Or (begging excuses from
> >actual gorillas), at least a gorilla in the Latin American sense. Or maybe
> >he was non-scientific.
>Surely Popper's view was that if falsifiability was impossible than a
>proposition could not rise above theory, and as such was more akin
>to philosophy than science? In accepting that Darwin's theory of
>evolution is just that - a theory - surely we must accept the
>concommitant judgement that it is not strictly science? Since when
>was this unacceptable, anyway? I for one see no shame in advancing
>philosophic concepts that have difficulty "aspiring" to science - the
>latter is not a religion, and is firmly rootd in the former. I also do not
>accept the argument [and I know that YOU guys are not making it,
>and that we all know which types are] that there is nothing to tell
>between two "theories", or that a theory that hasn't the full weight
>of being "science" is therefore necessarily weaker because of it.
>Popper's view would be that no scientific "fact" is proven anyway -
>the whole point of his musings on science was to say that the only
>sure "facts" involved were those relating to dis-proof not proof.

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