PhilSci Archive

Popper, Rationality and The Possibility of Social Science

Frederick, Danny (2013) Popper, Rationality and The Possibility of Social Science. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 28 (1). pp. 61-75. ISSN 2171-679X

6587.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (781kB)


Social science employs teleological explanations which depend upon the rationality principle, according
to which people exhibit instrumental rationality. Popper points out that people also exhibit critical rationality,
the tendency to stand back from, and to question or criticise, their views. I explain how our critical rationality impugns the explanatory value of the rationality principle and thereby threatens the very possibility of social science. I discuss the relationship between instrumental and critical rationality and show how we can reconcile our critical rationality with the possibility of social science if we invoke Popper’s conception of limited rationality and his indeterminism.

Las ciencias sociales emplean explicaciones teleológicas que dependen del principio de racionalidad, de
acuerdo con el cual las personas exhiben un tipo de racionalidad instrumental. Popper señala que, además,
las personas exhiben una racionalidad crítica, que es la tendencia a distanciarse, y a cuestionar o criticar, sus
distintos puntos de vista. Aquí explico cómo nuestra racionalidad crítica impugna el valor explicativo del
principio de racionalidad poniendo en peligro la propia posibilidad de las ciencias sociales. Asimismo, discuto
la relación entre la racionalidad instrumental y crítica, y muestro cómo podemos reconciliar nuestra racionalidad
crítica con la posibilidad de las ciencias sociales si invocamos la concepción de racionalidad limitada
de Popper y su indeterminismo.

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Frederick, Danny
Additional Information: ISSN: 0495-4548 (print)
Keywords: human action; explanation; indeterminism; Popper; rationality; rationality principle; situational logic; social science; acción humana; explicación; indeterminismo; racionalidad; principio de racionalidad; lógica situacional; ciencia social.
Depositing User: Users 15304 not found.
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2014 21:17
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2014 21:17
Item ID: 10188
Journal or Publication Title: THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science
Publisher: Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Date: February 2013
Page Range: pp. 61-75
Volume: 28
Number: 1
ISSN: 2171-679X

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item