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Feyerabend, Paul (1924–94)

ANDREW BELSEY


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


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Austro-American philosopher, who with K uhn and Imre Lakatos (1922–74) was one of the main post-Popperian philosophers of science. Following war service in the German army and studies in Vienna, Feyerabend spent time in Britain working with Karl P opper before moving in 1958 to California, where he was a professor at Berkeley. After early papers on the philosophy of quantum physics, Feyerabend wrote some highly influential papers critical of empiricist philosophy of Science . However, as the title of one paper – “How to be a good empiricist” – suggests, Feyerabend was not totally repudiating the empiricist approach, but was criticizing the narrowness of the dominant conception of science. In its place he argued for theoretical proliferation, claiming that scientists should work not with one theory to the exclusion of all rivals, but with a range of incompatible theories, each of which could suggest fruitful ways forward, while all could be sources of empirical criticism. In this way the production of both theories and empirical tests could be maximized, and science would benefit. Feyerabend also rejected traditional claims that scientific development is cumulative, and, like Kuhn, used the idea of incommensurability. By the time he wrote Against Method Feyer-abend was developing his ideas in opposition to those of Lakatos, whose “methodology of scientific research programmes” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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