Category: “Replies to my Critics”

[Schilpp. Popper. pp. 961-1197.]

Vague induction

It is clear that, if one uses the word “induction” widely and vaguely enough, any tentative acceptance of the result of any investigation can be called “induction”. In that sense, but (I must emphasize) in no other, Professor Putnam is quite right to detect an “inductivist quaver” in one of the passages he quotes (section 3). But in general he has not read, or if read not understood, what I have written … . [994]

The plumber as scientist

As I have said before, I see in science (whenever I look at it in an evolutionary context) the conscious and critical form of an adaptive method of trial and error.

This is why I say that we (from the amoeba to Einstein) learn from our mistakes. This is also why I say that science–that is, scientific discovery—is “revolution in permanence”.

I do not mean by this that we cannot distinguish in science between ls of stagnation (as Watkins calls them) and more revolutionary and progressive periods; or that all periods are permanently “revolutionary” in that sense in which we speak of a Copernican, a Galilean, a Newtonian, and Ensteinian “revolution”.

I mean something very different. I mean that even a minor discovery (it he made by an animal) is revolutionary. I mean that many engineers and blogists are minor or major revolutionaries. I mean, more precisely, established beliefs (or routines) are overthrown every day. Sometimes are major discoveries: more often they are very minor discoveries. The heating engineer who faces the problem of how to install a central heating system required to work under unusual conditions may just apply his established rules of thumb, and thus fail to solve the problem: in the face of failure he may depart from his routine and (after eliminating several possible solutions) arrive at a critical solution of his problem. He will have as an applied scientist in my sense of the word, and he will have made a discovery by critical thinking, by the critical rejection of erroneous solutions. [1147]