Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Karl Popper's Philosophy of Science - And the Evolution of the Popperian Worlds

Harri Sahavirta

Doctoral dissertation, June 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy.

This doctoral thesis in theoretical philosophy is a systematic analysis of Karl Popper's philosophy of science and its relation to his theory of three worlds. The general aim is to study Popper's philosophy of science and to show that Popper's theory of three worlds was a restatement of his earlier positions. As a result, a new reading of Popper's philosophy and development is offered and the theory of three worlds is analysed in a new manner. It is suggested that the theory of three worlds is not purely an ontological theory, but has a profound epistemological motivation.

In Part One, Popper's epistemology and philosophy of science is analysed. It is claimed that Popper's thinking was bifurcated: he held two profound positions without noticing the tension between them. Popper adopted the position called the theorist around 1930 and focused on the logical structure of scientific theories. In Logik der Forschung (1935), he attempted to build a logic of science on the grounds that scientific theories may be regarded as universal statements which are not verifiable but can be falsified. Later, Popper emphasized another position, called here the processionalist. Popper focused on the study of science as a process and held that a) philosophy of science should study the growth of knowledge and that b) all cognitive processes are constitutive. Moreover, the constitutive idea that we see the world in the searchlight of our theories was combined with the biological insight that knowledge grows by trial and error.

In Part Two, the theory of three worlds is analysed systematically. The theory is discussed as a cluster of theories which originate from Popper's attempt to solve some internal problems in his thinking. Popper adhered to realism and wished to reconcile the theorist and the processionalist. He also stressed the real and active nature of the human mind, and the possibility of objective knowledge. Finally, he wished to create a scientific world view.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 26.05.2006

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