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Extra resources for Action Philosophers! 02 - All Sex Special - June2005
The experiment proved a success, satisfying Popper’s two 32 KARL POPPER AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES criteria for realness; therefore, atoms are real (SIB, 9). ). ). But I should stress here that, for Popper, in claiming that certain theoretical entities, such as atoms or neutrinos, are real, we make no claim to have described those entities completely. Popper held that good scientific theories get closer to the truth (they have greater “verisimilitude”), but no theory ever produces an ultimate explanation—that is, an explanation whose truth would be somehow intuitively obvious and in no need of further refinement (OK, 194–195).
He further developed this pluralist ontology in The Self and Its Brain, an inquiry into the mind-body problem published in 1977. A brief account of Popper’s theory is needed before we explore its relevance to social inquiry. Popper claimed that the world could be divided into “at least three ontological distinct sub-worlds,” which he called Worlds 1, 2, and 3 (OK, 154). Worlds 1 and 2 correspond respectively to body and mind in the traditional mind-body dualism. That is, World 1 represents the material world, and World M E TA P H YS I C S, R E A L I S M , A N D S I T UAT I O NA L A NA LYS I S 33 2 is the realm of subjective mental states.
That claim is consistent with his critique of induction and naïve empiricism. In fact, it is merely a restatement of his realism—science attempts to discover real structures, forces, and entities that lie behind the world of 41 42 KARL POPPER AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES everyday experience. It also expresses a realist notion of causation insofar as a scientific explanation would require identifying the forces and mechanisms that produce various phenomena. Interestingly, however, Popper also embraced what I have designated as the sixth tenet of positivism—the covering-law model of explanation—and upon first inspection his notion of a causal explanation appears identical to the “standard” positivistic account (LScD, 59–62; PH, 122–124; RAS, 131–147).