Karl Popper

Popper, Sir Karl Raimund

Sir Karl Raimund Popper, 1902–94, Anglo-Austrian philosopher, b. Vienna. He became familiar with the Vienna circle of logical positivists (see logical positivism) while a student at the Univ. of Vienna (Ph.D., 1928). He taught at Canterbury Univ., New Zealand (1937–45), and then at the London School of Economics, retiring in 1969. Popper's thought develops from his view of knowing as an individual, unpredictable act of genius, not acquired by induction, as empiricists hold, nor limited to verifiable statements, as the logical positivists hold. Like the logical positivists, Popper worked with the distinction between scientific knowledge and pseudoscience, but he understood the two to be related as well as distinct: pseudoscience or "myth," as he sometimes termed it, can inspire or grow into science, or overlap with it (as in the case of psychology). He rejected the certainty of knowledge, whether secured on empiricist or rationalist ground.

Popper also questioned historicism (the doctrine that there are general laws of history) because history, as he saw it, is influenced by the growth of knowledge, and, since knowing is a matter of unpredictable insight, neither the growth of knowledge nor its historical consequences can be systematized. In the political arena he was perhaps best known for his contention, set forth in The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945), that communism and fascism were philosophically linked, and his works, along with those of Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, provided the theoretical underpinnings for the conservative program of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Popper was knighted in 1965. His other works include The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1935), The Poverty of Historicism (1957), Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (1972), The Self and Its Brain (rev. ed. 1978), and Postscript to the Logic of Scientific Discovery (3 vol., 1981–82).

See studies by I. C. Jarvie (1972), B. Magee (1973), W. Berkson and J. Wetterman (1984), N. DeMarchi (1988), and M. H. Hacohen (2000).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Karl Popper: A Critical Appraisal
Philip Catton; Graham Macdonald.
Routledge, 2004
Karl Popper: Philosopher of Critical Realism
Barnhart, Joe.
The Humanist, Vol. 56, No. 4, July-August 1996
The Political Thought of Karl Popper
Jeremy Shearmur.
Routledge, 1996
The Poverty of Historicism
Karl R. Popper.
Beacon Press, 1957
Philosophy and Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy
John Shand.
UCL Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "Popper" begins on p. 271
Foundations of Economic Method: A Popperian Perspective
Lawrence A. Boland.
Routledge, 2003 (2nd edition)
Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
Karl R. Popper.
Basic Books, 1962
The Logic of Scientific Discovery
Karl R. Popper.
Basic Books, 1959
Unended Quest
Karl Popper.
Routledge, 2002
Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy
Kwame Anthony Appiah.
Oxford University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Justifying Theories II: Popper and Falsification" begins on p. 163
On Popper, Probabilities and Propensities
Runde, Jochen.
Review of Social Economy, Vol. 54, No. 4, Winter 1996
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Understanding Philosophy of Science
James Ladyman.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Popper is discussed in Chap. 3 "Falsificationism"
Methodological Individualism: Background, History, and Meaning
Lars Udehn.
Routledge, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Popperian Methodological Individualism"
Beyond Rhetoric and Realism in Economics: Towards a Reformulation of Economic Methodology
Thomas A. Boylan; Paschal F. O'Gorman.
Routledge, 1995
Librarian’s tip: "The Popperian Interlude: The Demise of Positivism" begins on p. 18
Critical Economic Methodology: A Personal Odyssey
Lawrence A. Boland.
Routledge, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Part V "Popper and Economic Methodology"
The Economics of Science: Methodology and Epistemology as If Economics Really Mattered
James R. Wible.
Routledge, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "A Cost-Benefit Approach to Research Project Selection, Popper's Methodology, and Scientific Progress"
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