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Edwin Locke vs. Popper

This is a repost from The Beginning of Infinity google group, 2013-01-06, by me.


Harry Binswanger wrote:
Date: Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 10:14 PM

Objectivism holds that perception is infallible and that all science is, ultimately, the unpacking of what's implicit in perception. There's no question that Popper is completely wrong and is the philosophical father of people like Feyerabend. On the latter, see the article, "The Anti-Philosophy of Science," by James G. Lennox (U. Pittsburgh), in The Objectivist Forum.

I think this is important for how extremely wrong it is, coming from a respected Objectivist leader. How can he be this wrong and still be respected?

It also gives you some sense of how misguided (at least some) Objectivist criticism of Popper is.

I suspect few if any Objectivist have a clue on this issue. Otherwise wouldn't someone have corrected Binswanger? How could he maintain errors like this if many Objectivists understood this stuff?

Note that [this] blatantly and directly contradicts Ayn Rand, who was a fallibilist. And blaming Feyerabend on Popper is dumb and also a ridiculous way of attacking Popper's ideas (pretty much ad hominem on the wrong person... lol).

Stuff like this is why I haven't had much interest in thoroughly checking out more Objectivist epistemology papers. I don't expect them to be any good.

I also previously looked at:

The Case for Inductive Theory Building
Edwin A Locke

Which was terrible. Sample quotes:

The proper epistemological standard to use in judging scientific discoveries is not omniscient certainty but contextual certainty. One attains contextual certainty when there is an accumulation of great deal of positive evidence supporting a conclusion and no contradictory evidence (Peikoff, 1991, see ch. 5 ).

Ayn Rand was a fallibilist but most of her followers lust after certainty.

In sum, Popper (2003) rejected not only induction but everything that makes induction possible: reality (specifically, the ability to know it), causality and objective concept formation.

Popper rejected reality? Umm, no.

Popper’s (2003) replacement for induction was deduction.

No. Not even close.

I'm also confused because Popper (who died in 1994) did not publish anything in 2003.

Axioms are self-evident and cannot be contradicted without accepting them in the process (Peikoff, 1991). They are grasped inductively; they are implicit in one’s first perceptions of reality. They are both true and non-falsifiable,

More anti-fallibilism.

This paper cites a bunch of others but I'm not really interested in going through them. I don't see any reason to expect them to be better.

Perhaps this is revealing: the only Popper book in the bibliography is LScD. He ignores all of Popper's later work.


When I tried to debate Popper on HBL, more respectfully than this with more helpful explanations, Edwin Locke emailed me to say "I am not interested in your views." He gave no reason why. He didn't try to objectively win the debate. He didn't want to address criticisms relating to his views on Popper.

Locke's paper is full of additional flaws (it's pretty easy to find a bunch if you're familiar with Popper's writing) but Locke expressed disinterest in discussion, and his arguments were low quality, so I and others didn’t see a reason to write more.


Elliot Temple on December 4, 2019

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