Section III: Popper’s philosophy of critical rationalism

In this section, I use the insights of the previous sections to offer a critical review of Popper's critical rationalism. First of all, it is important to keep in mind that a theory of rationality is itself a claim of knowledge aimed at addressing the question of what a ‘rational belief’ is. In this sense, the theory of rationality closely depends on the theory of knowledge. It can be argued, for instance, that the justified true account of knowledge leads to a justificationist concept of rationality and, when a conjectural account of knowledge is admitted, a non-justificational concept of rationality can also be suggested.

Mention of this linkage between the theory of knowledge and the theory of rationality leads to the question of whether Popper establishes critical rationalism on the basis of a theory of knowledge. As argued earlier, Popper's epistemology offers a philosophy of science, not a philosophy of knowledge. In his theory of science, Popper (1963: 7-8) argues: "All criticism of a theory is an attempt to refute it, either by showing that it does not correspond to the facts, or by showing that it does not solve the problems it claims to solve . ..”. Popper refers to modus tollens as a deductive form through which an ‘empirical' hypothesis can be shown to be false. Modus tollens cannot, however, be used for criticizing a metaphysical theory. Popper argues that a metaphysical theory may be evaluated according to its ability to solve the problems it claims to solve. He does not. however, introduce the logical form of such a critical evaluation. If Popper's epistemology does not offer an answer to the question of how a claim of rationality can be evaluated, then his epistemology is unable to serve his idea of critical rationalism. From perspective of this writer, the main reason for this shortcoming is that Popper does not apply the separation of justification and criticism for demarking a true claim of knowledge from a false one.

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