Science and Pseudoscience
Lakatos (Imre)
Source: Curd & Cover - Philosophy of Science - The Central Issues
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. The problem of demarcation is not simply a philosophical one: one can easily show that it has also grave ethical and political implications.
  2. Different solutions to the problem have been proposed so far, but they all turned out to be insufficient.
  3. The "methodology of scientific research programmes" solves some of the difficulties into which other methodologies have led.

Editors’ introduction1
  1. In an important paper2, Lakatos put forward his view that the key to the demarcation between science and pseudo-science lies in the distinction between progressive research programmes and degenerating ones.
  2. As against Karl Popper he allows that any scientific research programme has a ‘hard core' which is belted against falsification by auxiliary hypotheses. According to Lakatos it is this protective belt which is adjusted in the light of unfavourable results.
  3. These adjustments will lead, in the case of a progressive programme, to an increase in the content of the theory whereas, in the case of a degenerating programme, the theory becomes increasingly trivial and empty.
  4. Lakatos insists, contrary to Thomas Kuhn, that the changeover from one programme to another is a wholly rational process even though it lacks the ‘instant rationality’ of a Popperian refutation.
  5. The following extract3 is a radio talk given by Lakatos for an Open University course. It is an informal account of his position and includes some exaggeration natural to the spoken word.


Also in "Brown (Stuart), Fauvel (John) & Finnegan (Ruth), Eds. - Conceptions of Inquiry" (full text, with editorial introduction).

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3:

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  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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