Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Critical rationalism is a school in the philosophy of science and in political philosophy centered on the works of the Austrian-English philosopher Karl R. Popper. The Social Democrat Popper fled from Vienna and the Nazis in the late 1930s to New Zealand and established himself in London after the war. Critical rationalism is characterized by the method of trial and error, applicable in all scientific disciplines, philosophy, or politics according to its adherents. In a problem situation, a tentative theory is advocated to solve the problem. Thereafter, all efforts should be directed toward demonstrating the falseness of this theory (falsification, error elimination), and when this has been done, we are in a new problem situation but with increased knowledge. We have learned from our mistake. This optimistic belief in the possibility of the growth of knowledge justifies the label “rationalism.” Moreover, this rationalism is “critical,” since a prevailing theory should ...