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Part of PopperianEpistemology

KarlPopper's epistemology starts with a rejection of justification as the hallmark of rationality. (RejectionOfJustification)

But this doesn't imply a rejection of reason itself. Instead Popper invents an alternative, Critical Rationalism, to describe this justification free rationality.

According to this definition, someone's rationality lies not in the formation of their beliefs, but in the way that they treat them after formation. In having a disposition to not evaluate the truth of beliefs according to their genealogy or pedigree. But, having formed a belief (by the process Popper calls conjecture), a rational person is obliged to never hold it beyond further criticism. Criticism of beliefs is in terms of cross-reference against other beliefs. It would be irrational to believe two inconsistent things.

Although we have no obligation to reject beliefs because of their origin, if we are sceptical about an idea received from one source, we should cross-check it against information received from an alternative channel. This Popper suggests is what we in fact do. In contrast to the implication of justificationism, which is that we attempt to validate particular channels.

Next : ConjectureIsBlind


  • Doesn't this mean ICanBelieveAnythingIWant?
  • I heard Popper was a realist, isn't this a Coherance Theory?
    • No, under critical rationalism, the hallmark of rationality is consistency, or better understood, the disposition to try to ensure consistency. However Popperianism is not a Coherence but a Correspondance Theory of Truth
  • One might be tempted to ask IsPopperNaturalist?

See also a TelescopeExampleOfCriticalMethod

Worth distinguishing from NaiveNegativeCriticism

CategoryEpistemology, CategoryPhilosophy

Quora Answer : What can be known? Is some amount of "faith" necessary to function in the world?

Mar 28, 2014

I think Popper nailed it with his notion of "critical rationalism".

For Popper all knowledge is guesswork. Or "conjecture" in his terminology. And importantly, there is NO WAY, up front, to say which guesses are better than any other.

What we can do, though, retrospectively, once we have a guess, is to compare it for consistency with all the other guesses we have, including the ones we have about the material world (those are the empirical evidence) and be very concerned when we find inconsistencies.

In fact, it's this "being very concerned" which counts as being "rational" in Popper's epistemology. Rational is what you are when you recognise that your conjectures could be wrong and are open to, and (in some sense) are actively seeking to, revise them if you come across something that reveals their inconsistency.

So what makes "faith" necessary? If what impresses you about "faith" is that it's not built on or derived from anything else, then yes, something like that IS necessary. Foundationalism is problematic because we can't identify any plausible foundations. And holding some kind of foundationalism without identifying foundations leads to the infinite regress (In other words if we think all beliefs need to be justified in terms of other beliefs, how do we ever get off the ground?)

However, Popper's "conjectures" do the same work. They're ALSO unfounded.

OTOH, if what impresses you about "faith" is its unquestionability, then no, there's no need for that. Popper's "conjectures" do the work you need while retaining the property of being questionable / revisable.