The Logic of Scientific Discovery

By Karl R. Popper | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
ON THE PROBLEM OF A THEORY OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD

IN accordance with my proposal made above, epistemology, or the logic of scientific discovery, should be identified with the theory of scientific method. The theory of method, in so far as it goes beyond the purely logical analysis of the relations between scientific statements, is concerned with the choice of methods--with decisions about the way in which scientific statements are to be dealt with. These decisions will of course depend in their turn upon the aim which we choose from among a number of possible aims. The decision here proposed for laying down suitable rules for what I call the 'empirical method' is closely connected with my criterion of demarcation: I propose to adopt such rules as will ensure the testability of scientific statements; which is to say, their falsifiability.


9. Why Methodological Decisions are Indispensable.

What are rules of scientific method, and why do we need them? Can there be a theory of such rules, a methodology?

The way in which one answers these questions will largely depend upon one's attitude to science. Those who, like the positivists, see empirical science as a system of statements which satisfy certain logical criteria, such as meaningfulness or verifiability, will give one answer. A very different answer will be given by those who tend to see (as I do) the distinguishing characteristic of empirical statements in their susceptibility to revision--in the fact that they can be criticized, and superseded by better ones; and who regard it as their task to analyse the characteristic ability of science to advance, and the

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