In critical rationalism on 16/07/2011 at 7:34 am

The funny thing is, most philosophers of science and epistemologists would consider my positions as a critical rationalist insane. In fact, I would be treated as insane for adopting something so prima facie absurd.

Do you now understand why I do not publicize my name?


  1. Do you really think the problem is that bad?

    Do you have a particular example or experience in mind?

    I figured you might not want to publish your name for career reasons, but do your peers really believe you’re insane?

    • In order,

      (1) Yes, (2) far too many to mention, (3) in light of their position, what I’m advocating is–literally–madness.

  2. Do you really think the problem is that bad?

    Do you have a particular example or experience in mind?

    I figured you might not want to publish your name for career reasons, but “insane”? Really?

  3. Possibly an element of exaggeration, but then you could think of it as a kind of projection. You could say that it is insane to persist with the quest for justified beliefs in view of the complete lack of progress in this program in the last 100 years, during which time the profession has become fully professionalised (and specialised, two very dangerous developments).

    So we could say that they are insane. But they pre-empt the claim by getting in first, and they have the numbers!

    The problem is that the moment a philosopher accepts the CR approach, he or she has a massive crisis of conscience to account for the years or decades that they spent ignoring or misrepresenting Popper and CR. Someone said that the older ones are just hoping to slither through to retirement before the balloon goes up.

    Kitcher is an interesting case. He knows a bit about Popper and adopts some CR positions but has managed to do it in a way that enables him to be accepted as a leader in the field.

    Anyway, there is scope for some great work in the sociology of knowledge do be done on the philosophy profession. And the sociology profession as well, a field that is equally insane, so the necessary work will be a long time coming.

    • The claim of “Projection!” never sat right with me–I think that, assuming what most other philosophers of science assume, what CR says is really off the wall. It goes against their most basic beliefs.

      So I’ll keep quiet until the year I reach tenure, or I publish enough that I’m taken seriously.

      I’m quite lucky to have encountered CR so early, even though it took me close to five years to adopt it.

      By the way, the post was a response to a private conversation with another philosopher I had this afternoon over the Internet–one that has finally reached a point in his career where he can say things that go against the grain and not be rejected outright–and we had oddly similar experiences.

  4. Colour me intrigued.

    What has happened to you?

    Obviously, I don’t want you to reveal anything that might compromise your identity. I only ask because of the combined feeling curiosity and disbelief.

    • It’s mostly been straight-up laughter at positions I’ve taken on justification, induction, world 3, &c. I’ve seen part of the sausage factory behind the scenes, and it wasn’t pretty.

      The philosopher I spoke today with had some very specific examples, which I cannot relay without breaking confidentiality, but they mirrored my own. It was just straight disbelief on behalf of everyone else. They couldn’t even fathom such a position.

      The philosophical community has, in some respects, turned into a guild designed to protect whatever program is in fashion. I fear Bartley was right in his Unmeasured Wealth, Unfathomed Knowledge.

      • Well, I’m glad you appeared online. Some of the stuff you have written here is near word for word stuff I have written in the past, and th rest of it is better than anything I could have written. There is a perverse comfort in knowing there are others who are about as “insane” as me.

        • Hah! That’s a trip. I’ll take the compliment with a deep bow. All I’ve learned about writing I’ve learned from Popper and Russell.

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