Conjectures and Refutations

Conjectures and Refutations

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Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge is a book written by philosopher Karl Popper
Karl Popper
Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH FRS FBA was an Austro-British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics...

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Published in 1963 by Routledge
Routledge
Routledge is a British publishing house which has operated under a succession of company names and latterly as an academic imprint. Its origins may be traced back to the 19th-century London bookseller George Routledge...

, this book is a collection of his lectures and papers that summarised his thoughts on the philosophy of science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

. Popper suggested that all scientific theories are by nature conjectures and inherently fallible, and that refutation to old theory is the paramount process of scientific discovery. Should any new theory survive more of such refutations, it would have a higher verisimilitude
Verisimilitude
Verisimilitude is the quality of realism in something .-Competing ideas:The problem of verisimilitude is the problem of articulating what it takes for one false theory to be closer to the truth than another false theory...

and therefore, Popper concluded, closer to truth.

Conjectures and Refutations is one of Karl Popper's most wide-ranging and popular works, notable not only for its acute insight into the way scientific knowledge grows, but also for applying those insights to politics and to history. It provides one of the clearest and most accessible statements of the fundamental idea that guided his work: not only our knowledge, but our aims and our standards, grow through an unending process of trial and error. Popper demonstrates how knowledge grows by guesses or conjectures and tentative solutions, which must then be subjected to critical tests. Although they may survive any number of tests, our conjectures remain conjectures, they can never be established as true.

What makes Conjectures and Refutations such an enduring book is that Popper goes on to apply this bold theory of the growth of knowledge to a fascinating range of important problems, including the role of tradition, the origin of the scientific method, the demarcation between science and metaphysics, the body-mind problem, the way we use language, how we understand history, and the dangers of public opinion. Throughout the book, Popper stresses the importance of our ability to learn from our mistakes.