Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994)
related figures: Wittgenstein, Popper, Lakatos,
description: relativist; epistemological anarchist
organisations: LSE, University of Bristol, Berkley, University of Sussex (plus Berlin, New Zealand)


In the 1960�s Feyerabend�s views moved to a �theoretical pluralism�, this view held that for falsification to work best scientists ought to develop as many alternative theories as possible. In 1969 wrote �Science Without Experience�, which was a critique of empiricism� stating that in principle �experience� is not necessary to development and authentification of empirical theories.

Further to this, Feyerband argues, that seeing as correct scientific results have come out of the most obscure and irrational of premises, there is not priveledged starting point and character to science. Hence in Feyerbands view, almost anything can be called science.

From Against Method:

�The idea that science can, and should, be run according to fixed and universal rules, is both unrealistic and pernicious. It is unrealistic, for it takes too simple a view of the talents of man and of the circumstances which encourage, or cause, their development. And it is pernicious, for the attempt to enforce the rules is bound to increase our professional qualifications at the expense of our humanity. In addition, the idea is detrimental to science, for it neglects the complex physical and historical conditions which influence scientific change. It makes our science less adaptable and more dogmatic: every methodological rule is associated with cosmological assumptions, so that using the rule we take it for granted that the assumptions are correct. Naive falsificationism takes it for granted that the laws of nature are manifest and not hidden beneath disturbances of considerable magnitude. Empiricism takes it for granted that sense experience is a better mirror of the world than pure thought.�
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resources: On epistemological anarchism
Spoon-ann discussion list
Extensive information in Standford Encyclopaedia

Against Method

Science and free society

Farewell to Reason

e-text (last chapter of Against Method, and summary of main arguments)