Critical rationalism

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Critical rationalism is an epistemological philosophy advocated by the philosopher of science Karl Popper.

Critical rationalists take the position that scientific theories and any other claims to knowledge should and are able to be rationally criticized, and (if they contain empirical content) can and should be subjected to tests which potentially may falsify them.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosopyhy declares:

“Critical Rationalism” is the name Karl Popper (1902-1994) gave to a modest and self-critical rationalism. He contrasted this view with “uncritical or comprehensive rationalism,” the received justificationist view that only what can be proved by reason and/or experience should be accepted. Popper argued that comprehensive rationalism cannot explain how proof is possible and that it leads to inconsistencies. Critical rationalism today is the project of extending Popper’s approach to all areas of thought and action. In each field the central task of critical rationalism is to replace allegedly justificatory methods with critical ones.[1]

In The Open Society and its Enemies Popper put forward the concept of Critical Rationalism in opposition to the Authoritarian rationalism of previous philosophers. Previous philosophers had assumed a central role of justification in knowledge, whilst Popper denied the very possibility of justification arguing that any attempt to establish a foundation for knowledge led to a regress ending in "faith" (in the sense of a belief held without conclusive reasons that is held to be uncriticisable). Popper characterised rationality not as a methodology of formulating and verifying proposition but as a constant criticism of existing beliefs.

For more information, please see: Karl Popper and critical rationalism

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