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Very Poor Quality Criticism of Popper

Today [Popper's] followers among philosophers of science are a diminishing minority, convinced that Popper's vast reputation is enormously inflated.
This is an insult with no citation. It's also an attempt to deny that there are any Popperians who hold a high opinion of Popper. I am such a Popperian, so Gardner is mistaken.
I believe that Popper's reputation was based mainly on this persistent but misguided efforts to restate common-sense views in a novel language that is rapidly becoming out of fashion.
Popper repeatedly advocated speaking in a simple and clear way, and put a lot of effort into doing so. He was a major opponent of what he is being accused of here. See, for example, The Myth of the Framework page 72-73.
I am convinced that Popper, a man of enormous egotism, was motivated by an intense jealousy of Carnap.
This is an insult which should not be found in any serious essay.
Confirming instances underlie our beliefs that the Sun will rise tomorrow, that dropped objects will fall, that water will freeze and boil, and a million other events. It is hard to think of another philosophical battle so decisively lost.
Popperians today, such as myself, disagree about confirming instances. The battle has not been lost. Gardner is trying, for the second time, to convince his readers that he must be correct because his opponents have conceded, which they have not.
Scholars unacquainted with the history of philosophy often credit popper for being the first to point out that science, unlike math and logic, is never absolutely certain. It is always corrigible, subject to perpetual modification. This notion of what the American philosopher Charles Peirce called the "fallibilism" of science goes back to ancient Greek skeptics, and is taken for granted by almost all later thinkers.
Popper conjectured that the critical rationalist tradition was invented only once by Thales and Anaximander, not by himself. He learned Ancient Greek to help support his position. He repeatedly quoted Xenophanes to show his fallibilism. Popper did not try to take credit for these ideas; he was a major force in spreading knowledge of their origins.

Popper credits "the great American philosopher Charles S. Peirce" as a fallibilist in The Myth of the Framework on page 92 and again on page 48. On pages 91-92 he credits Einstein as a fallibilist who ended authoritarian science perhaps forever. Popper is generally humble throughout his books.

Kelley L. Ross criticizes Gardner's essay at http://www.friesian.com/gardner.htm

Here is what he says about fallibilism:
Gardner only sees skepticism as the endorsement of the fallible and corrigible nature of knowledge -- something that goes "back to ancient Greek skeptics, and is taken for granted by almost all later thinkers" [p.15]. Greek Skepticism, however, denied that there was knowledge, not just that it was infallible; and this is only "taken for granted" by later thinkers who happen to be an Anglo-American tradition derived from Hume's own skepticism.
This is in direct contradiction to Popper. In 'Back to the Presocratics' Popper argues that his fallibilist approach is in keeping with a tradition going back to Xenophanes and before. Here are two Xenophanes quotes from page 205 of Conjectures and Refutations:
Through seeking we may learn, and know things better

These things, we conjecture, are somehow like the truth
Apparently Kelley L. Ross is unaware of this essay. Xenophanes was not a skeptic who "denied that there was knowledge" but was a part of the Presocratic fallibilist tradition.

Even Popper's defenders do not carefully read his work. What's going on?

Elliot Temple on August 19, 2008


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