Power’s corrosive powers

Sir Karl Popper’s originality as a philosopher of science is usually attributed to his stress on criticism and falsification as routes to knowledge. His originality as a philosopher of society and politics is usually presented as an extension of those epistemological and methodological ideas into what might be termed a defensive view of political life. It was prudent, he famously argued, to act as if tendencies to despotism and tyranny were endemic; to treat all government, indeed all power, with suspicion; and to create a political system in which the government could be changed by the governed without resort to violence. While providing no guarantee of freedom and openness, this was the best avail­able insurance against their erosion.[5]

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