Broadening the Horizons

In critical rationalism on 30/07/2011 at 10:45 am

If philosophy is not to slide toward irrelevance and become a puzzle-game-playing discipline, good mainly for teaching the young to think clearly, some central parts of philosophy should broaden their horizons. (Tyler Burge, Origins of Objectivity, xvii)


  1. In your experience, is philosophy sliding toward a preoccupation with “puzzle-game-playing”?

    Is analytic, Wittgenstein-style philosophy still a problem?

    I really don’t know. I assume you are closer to the philosophical establishment. All I know is that there are an awful lot of Bayesians.

    • It’s always sliding — it always has been. The last big slide was towards language philosophy, now it’s towards Bayesianism as a solution to the problem of induction (natch) and more and more restrictive theories of justification.

  2. How do your peers/colleagues respond to your critical rationalism?

    • They don’t — I stay clear from the buzzword ‘critical rationalism’. It’s far easier to adopt van Fraassen’s position, since it’s so popular right now.

  3. Why don’t philosophers like Popper?

    I often detect animosity toward Popper, even when it’s clear they have never actually read Popper. Do philosophers have special Popper-hating classes or something?

    • I honestly don’t know, but it’s possible it has to do with some perceived hubris. After all, not many people claim to have solved the problem of induction and the demarcation problem in one go … and the solution is so unorthodox!

      That, coupled with the common misconceptions, in their eyes, if I might do a little psychoanalysis, it just comes off like Popper was a strange logical positivist that liked to toot his own horn a bit too often.

      The only philosophers I can think that receive the same treatment in the analytic tradition are Kierkegaard and Heidegger (plus all Heidegger’s progeny).

  4. My hunch was that philosophers of science tend to resent how popular Popper’s ideas are with actual scientists.

    • That probably is a piece of the puzzle. The only other philosophers I can think of that are so large in the public eye are Wittgenstein, Kuhn, and Russell. Most lay-people may not know what they said, but they have some inkling. Popper, though, was far more popular with scientists than the other three.

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