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Volume :17 Issue : 2 1989      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

The Concept of Social Change in the Political Philosophy of Karl Popper

Auther : Mohammad Mahmoud Rabie

The object of this paper is to use Popper’s hypothetical-deductive method as a tool for understanding his concept of social change, one of the central themes of his political philosophy. Three key topic areas have been chosen: the open society, the role of social sciences and historicism. Popper’s open society is one whose members can openly criticize the institutions of power without fear of reprisal, and where education is free from indoctrination. Arguing against holism, he maintained that social sciences cannot supply laws of total social change but laws of fragmented and isolated social units. Contrary to the historicism of Plato, Hegel and Marx, he advocated gradual social reform instead of the entire reconstruction of social via revolution. In evaluating Popper’s ideas, this paper holds that his criticism of Plato is unjustified since he himself advocated controlled reform, and his ‘piecemeal social engineering’ lack cohesion as he failed to contribute the present relatively stable Western society to earlier revolutions. It is also shown that his overzeal for individualism was at the expense of objectivity, especially his contention that the misfortunes of ex-colonies were unintended outcomes of imperialism, and that social sciences should be kept away from studying social wholes like nations and civilizations.

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