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The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Routledge Classics) [Paperback]

Karl Popper
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 Feb 2002 Routledge Classics
Described by the philosopher A.J. Ayer as a work of 'great originality and power', this book revolutionized contemporary thinking on science and knowledge. Ideas such as the now legendary doctrine of 'falsificationism' electrified the scientific community, influencing even working scientists, as well as post-war philosophy. This astonishing work ranks alongside The Open Society and Its Enemies as one of Popper's most enduring books and contains insights and arguments that demand to be read to this day.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (21 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415278449
  • ISBN-13: 978-8130908113
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13.5 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'One of the most important documents of the twentieth century.' – Peter Medawar, New Scientist

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
A scientist, whether theorist or experimenter, puts forward statements, or systems of statements, and tests them step by step. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karl Popper and His New Logic 25 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Logic of Scientific Discovery", first published in German in 1935 by Karl Popper, (1902-1994), opened a new way in the philosophy of science.
He began his epistemological work with "The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge" (unpublished immediately), and he gave a summary of it in the first edition of his "Logic". The two main problems of Popper's logic are those of induction and of demarcation. Induction is the first one, or the problem of Hume with the first objection of Kant, the second problem is concerning the separation between science and pseudo-science ( i.e. essentially metaphysics, marxism, and psychoanalysis). He realized later that it was the same problem.
So, since Bacon ("Novum Organum") until the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle (Carnap, Schlick, Wittgenstein), the scientific research was for Popper in a wrong way. In their scientific approach the authors of the Vienna Circle did adopt a criterion of meaning (and with verification) in order to divide the two sorts of propositions: scientifical versus metaphysical, to stay in the truth of science. For Popper, the scientific discovery is an unended process of trial and error, in testing hypothesis or theories, with the survival of the best ones through the means of the falsification or the refutation. It is an objective knowledge, but we can never speak of truth, we can only be confident in the theories (or conjectures) which have resisted to the strongest tests. It is a matter of "corroboration", with deductions, until a new theory is about to supersede the previous one (Newton, Einstein...).
Popper developed a new epistemology upon his logic of conjectures and refutations in scientific progress, he called it "critical rationalism", with free discussion between the scientists,(against empiricism and non-critical rationalism), and finally it led him up to an evolutionary theory of knowledge in philosophy of science.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A philosophical book for the working scientist 11 Mar 2013
Most of the working scientists I've talked to know about falsification. Fewer have heard of Popper and most of those who have know him solely as Mr Falsification. A very small number have actually read him and there appear to be two reasons - beyond simple ignorance of his existence - why many haven't. First, they think that falsification is the be all and end all of his philosophy. Second, because it *is* a philosophy and philosophy is a synonym for hair splitting, irrelevant word play and deliberate obfuscation. (A third group think that there's no need to read Popper because Kuhn.)

Before anything else, it helps to get these two things straight. There's a lot in the book besides falsification and Popper's writing style is exceptionally clear. It is an example of what philosophy can be at its best: rich with ideas so clearly stated they seem self evident. Popper himself was rightly scathing of some of the nonsense that masqueraded as philosophy in the 20th century and sought to write as clearly as possible. He largely succeeded. To clear up the third point, you'd best read the book.

Popper points out that science is a kind of accelerated evolutionary process. He argues that there need not be any sure process for generating `true' theories because human imagination is fertile enough that we can generate theories of such abundance and ingenuity that as long as we have some process for winnowing out the wrong, we might eventually find the right. The engine of this process is the simple logical observation that although we can never know for certain that a theory is correct, we can know that it is not. Consequently, it is the job of scientists to do their damndest to falsify their theories.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
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This is probably Popper's most famous work, in which he lays out his philosophy of science, focusing on the question of epistemology.

The book begins in a surprisingly accessible manner. I was expected some very high level philosophy that would be difficult to understand, but the translation is very easy to follow. Where he gets a little more obscure, he brings it back down-to-earth with examples that help to put his argument in context. I would describe the argument that Popper creates as being cumulative; that is, there are lots of references to earlier sections and, in particular, definitions.

For this reason, I would not recommend reading this book over a long period of time. I think it demands to be read quite intensively in as short a time as possible in order to ensure that one may follow it all.

The main thrust of Popper's argument is to say that theories are never verified, they can only be falsified. He dismantles the positivist point of view which led to empiricism and shows empiricism reduces to mere psychologism. From here, he then needs to discuss the degree of falsifiability. He considers a theory to be less likely the more ways it can possibly falsified. From here, what I think he should have done would then be to talk about corroboration and how a theory stands up to attempts to falsify it. Unfortunately, he leaves this to the end and instead goes off on a rather long and tortuous talk about probability.

This quite long section was the downside for me, as his discussion (and in particular, notation) was quite obscurantist, making it difficult to follow and quite oblique. From here, he moves on to talk about quantum mechanics and in particular the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

This brings me to my last point.
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