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piecemeal engineering

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P olitical philosophy, philosophy of social science Popper 's proposal for an approach to social change. Piecemeal social engineering contrasts with the utopian engineering of rapid, large-scale reform or revolution. Instead of setting up a positive blueprint for society and then seeking the means to realize it, piecemeal engineering confronts the ills of society through a succession of limited reforms. Social life is so complicated that we can not tell in advance the unintended consequences of any policy, and these consequences might be harmful. If reform is too complex, rapid, or wide-ranging, we can not trace harmful consequences to their source and correct them. Popper argued that reforming society by piece-meal social engineering would improve institutions and maintain scial stability more effectively that utopian strategies. Some critics argue that a policy of piecemeal social engineering would succeed only if there were social agreement, but on such matters there are often deep divisions. “The piecemeal engineer will, accordingly, adopt the method of searching for, and fighting against the greatest and most urgent evils of society, rather than searching for, and fighting for, its greatest ultimate good.” Popper, Open Society and Its Enemies ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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