Methodological Anarchism

Feyerabend appealed to historical cases to reject Nagel’s parallel account of inter-theoretical reduction (traditionally postulated mechanisms of cumulative progress) because, in actual historical practice, the change of meaning occurs from one major theory to its successor. Reductionism thus fails. Feyerabend introduced his conception of incommensurability. Competing theories should be multiplied and tested against each other because, in this way, more empirical content is brought to light than by testing theories in isolation. In his work, Feyerabend vehemently distanced himself from the positions of the Popper school. He strongly rejected the idea of a scientific method that makes science superior to other cultural enterprises. According to his “methodological anarchism,” any so-called methodological rule, including logical consistency, could be fruitfully violated in some contexts. His well-known slogan, “Anything goes,” was widely understood as more radical than intended by Morin, E.

Feyerabend subsequently stated that his primary goal was humanitarian, not epistemological, so it was not his purpose to defend the rationality of science. His attack on dogmatic and scientific conservatism, both within and outside scientific communities, has methodological, albeit negative, significance.

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Feyerabend was one of the first to emphasize the solid historical contingency of scientific work, both in the context of justification and discovery. He also defended this contingency at the methodological level.

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