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Never put to a fair test

Of course, like the most enduring monarchies, the scientific establishment continues to enjoy widespread public sup­port on most matters, including the tinge of divine inspiration that has traditionally legitimated royalty. It might therefore be claimed that science already represents ‘the will of the people’, and hence requires no further philosophical schemes for democratisation. Here Popper’s anti-majoritarian approach to democracy – what I would call his ‘civic republican’ sensibility – comes to the fore. Many authoritarian regimes, especially the 20th-century fascist and com­munist ones, could also persuasively claim widespread popular support, at least at the outset and in relation to the available alternatives. For Popper, however, the normative problem posed by these regimes is that their performance is never put to a fair test. Kuhn suffers from the same defect: a paradigm is simply an irrefutable theory that becomes the basis for an irreversible policy. [47−8]

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