When I was googling with word "Marx, Wittegenstein", I encountered an very interesting site.

The site owner ( the blogger ) asks, "Popper is not conducting his own theory, Falsifying test. Is it not same with that he is criticizing on a certain doctrine as if which he holds it being an exception?".

(*I am sorry I can not quote the URL since it is not an English site. )

The blogger's question

The blogger questions, although Popper himself is attacking determinists such as Marx, Wittgenstein, basing on his own theory. But the blogger claims Popper himself was not conducting his own falsifying test on his own theory as I mentioned above. But he also claimed that Popper's way of thinking, to try to doubt anything held so far as true is in a way positive. What do you think of the blogger's question?

Second question : My thought basing on the blogger's question

After having read the blogger's question, I thought about many things.

For example, in Micro Economics, which is prevalent world wide today as a scientific economic theory which employes Utility theory of value, which is, the price of the commodity is measured by how it is useful to the consumers.

Here I came upon an idea. Falsifying Test needs an upper level test in order to confirm if it is a "science" and the theory that withstood the tests as many as possible can be called "a true science"

Regarding how many times ( or how much far ) the tests need to be done for the theory to be a true science is now put aside as for now, Here, I thought the falsifying test be done on Micro Economics, which is extreme. As I mentioned earlier the Micro Economics stand mainly on Utility theory of value, the volume of the labor input is principally forgotten unlike Marx, who held ( widely considered by many people so, but I did not read it so personally ) the price is determined according to the amount of the labor input into the commodity". Now, the atmosphere, which we inhale every day is not traded as a commodity by Micro Economics. despite the fact it has the use value to the "user". If we take the Marx's widely ( meaning commonly held by people ) appreciated theory, since the air does not have the amount of the labor input into, thus the price can not be set. My falsifying test, hypothetically or not, I thought need to be done and went to extreme.

If we have to conduct the test, we have to consider an environment in which the atmosphere is traded as the commodity. Because the Micro Economics on its basic is based on the concept of the Utility theory of value, but does not treat the atmosphere as a commodity the reason of which I described above.** When the atmosphere is traded as the commodity, we have to think a world somewhere or at certain point of time the atmosphere is so scarce. ( Then the price could be set. ) What do you think of such an environment? Is such a test possible or just my dreamy imagination. ( Personally thinking, a thing can be a commodity which has the volume of labor input and at the same time it should be useful to the "consumers" ( Though Marx, to me too thought so personally ). But if we consider the Popperian thought, we have to conduct such an kind of absurd or ultimate test. Am I wrong here?

The last question, about the morality of the falsifying theory. There is a cell in our brain called Glial cells which support the function of the neuron thourh which you well know convey our input "signal" to the brain. Now while many anatomists theorize, we have to conduct the falsifying test repetitively in order for their theories to be the true science. Isn't it ugly? It sounds like we must do what Nazi did in concentration camps on living human beings. Am I wrong here too.

Any answer will be welcomed without any prejudice, thank you for your answers in advance

  • So, if I understand you, your question is: "Is falsificationism falsifiable?" (or "shouldn't falsificationism itself be falsifiable?")? If that's the case I would advise you to formulate the question more succinctly. As it stands (in particular the open-ended "What did you have on your mind after hearing my story on falsifying test?") your question will be closed, I think. – DBK Mar 26 '15 at 23:27
  • Thank you. I am sorry I tried to upload this question which came onto my mind yesterday and today it seems so different......( I might discard the question if I fail to edit ( sorry for the answerer )). Please give me some time. – Kentaro Mar 26 '15 at 23:31
  • Sure, your real question is very interesting and a good fit for this SE! It just needs a more concise wording :) – DBK Mar 26 '15 at 23:33
  • Thank you for your saying that. However, I must go today for work. Let me have some time. – Kentaro Mar 26 '15 at 23:35
  • For downvoters, I would be happy if you can kindly explain what is wrong with my question. Thank you. – Kentaro Mar 27 '15 at 13:37

It is not a problem for Popper that his theory of science is not falsifiable, even though he treated falsifiability as a necessary criterion for scientific theories.

Someone directing this criticism at Popper may be thinking of the historical complaint about the Verification Criterion of Meaning (as it is expressed for instance by A.J. Ayer in Language, Truth, and Logic, 1936). Ayer suggested that any claims at all which are not verifiable by some possible observation are not “cognitively meaningful.” This invited the criticism that that sentence itself is not cognitively meaningful. As Popper's falsification criterion is sometimes understood as a potential replacement for the verification criterion, it is easy to see how one might naturally try to direct a criticism of the same form at falsificationism.

However, Popper does not offer falsification as a theory of meaning. It does not separate what we can meaningfully talk about from what we cannot. Instead, he offers falsifiability as a criterion for science. It is part of his effort to demarcate (or distinguish or separate) potential descriptive scientific theories from unscientific theories. Since the falsification criterion is not offered as a scientific theory, falsifiability is irrelevant to its legitimacy.

As you ask about this in the context of Marxism, it is true that among Popper's criticisms of Marxism is that it is not falsifiable. So, you might ask, didn't Popper aim his criterion at other philosophies? Not as such. His complaint about Marxism's unfalsifiability is specifically about the Marxist theory of history, which makes claims about how history progresses. Accordingly, this specific part of Marxism has the form of a descriptive scientific theory. However, it is not employed by its proponents, Popper argues, in a way that ever opens it to falsification. Consequently, he concludes, it is unscientific.

  • Thank you for your answer. However, I might need to discard my question since it does not look so welcomed here. I upvoted here for the "Thank you for your answer" but sorry, please wait. – Kentaro Mar 27 '15 at 13:50
  • This question is about to be deleted due to the recommendation from the moderators. Though I read your post and it looks crystal clearly explaining Popper's stance, the very his criterion to distinguish the true science from the false science ( and what is true and false then? ) does not so sound comfortable to me as if his criterion itself, itself only can distinguish what is wrong and what is right. Personally, it looks his theory is basing on the his side's ( the so called the Western side in cold war era against the Soviet bloc ) ideology. So we can not conduct the test on – Kentaro Mar 28 '15 at 2:17
  • theory if the criterion should be correct or not. That's the blogger was asking and I kind of agreed with. Anyway, thank you for your answer and enlightenment. – Kentaro Mar 28 '15 at 2:19
  • Just a couple comments: (1) Popper's view predated the Cold War. (The Logic of Scientific Discovery was published in 1934.) (2) Popper's criterion does not distinguish true from false science, nor right from wrong ideas. That is not its purpose. That is the job of science. His criterion distinguishes what is potentially a scientific theory from what could never be. – ChristopherE Mar 28 '15 at 3:00
  • No, I'm afraid I don't think so. His "criticism" seem to go all the way back to his early life, around 1920'-30' in Germany at that time you might as very well know that the complete political turmoil ( basically, facists vs communists ) was so widely spreading. From the very 20's he was taking hostile attitude toward Marx, Wittegeinstein's view which ultimately concludes the philosophy is nothing ( or ended by Hegel ). Please read this source : 1 Life, it is clearly stating so : plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/#Lif Thus it may be able to say he was from the very start – Kentaro Mar 28 '15 at 13:30

Popper held that for a theory to be scientific it has to be falsifiable: there had to be some kind of event which would contradict the theory. You would then try to bring about such an event and if you succeed then the theory has a problem. That problem may be solved by rejecting the theory or by any other way of dealing with the problem that can be independently tested.

A theory can be true and valuable but also non-falsifiable. For example, a theory about what counts as a falsification can't be falsifiable since there is no explanation of what would count as a falsification of that theory. However, a non-falsifiable theory might be criticised in other ways, e.g. - whether it is consistent with tested theories, whether it is self-consistent, whether it solves the problem it set out to solve, whether it requires you to do something infeasible or immoral. See "Logic of Scientific Discovery", Chapter 2 and "Realism and the Aim of Science" Chapters II and III.

Popper considered Marx's ideas about the future of capitalism falsifiable and thought they had been refuted by events, e.g. - the lots of the workers improved in the West. But some later Marxists had changed his ideas in a way that made them non-falsifiable. See Chapter 1 of "Conjectures and Refutations".

Popper's original criticism of Marxism, given in Volume 2 of "The Open Society and Its Enemies" and "The Poverty of Historicism" was that it was prophetic but that prophecy is impossible and undesirable. Prophecy impossible because it involves predicting the future growth of knowledge. It is undesirable because it leads people either to fatalism or to to bad stuff to try to bring about the "inevitable". For further criticisms see "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch, the chapter on optimism.

Further issues:

But he also claimed that Popper's way of thinking, to try to doubt anything held so far as true is in a way positive.

I don't understand this question since you haven't explained what "positive" means. Popper denied that ideas can or should be justified, not that they may be true or solve problems, see "Realism and the Aim of Science" Chapter I.

Your second question makes unclear statements about economics. The appropriate theory of value is the marginal theory, which doesn't require saying that people count up units of how they feel about a particular commodity or anything like that, see


You don't necessarily have to test the marginal theory using your example involving air. Tests are done to eliminate bad theories not to prove any theory, so passing a test just means an idea hasn't been refuted and doesn't change its status in any way. If a test is not feasible or desirable for some reason, that's a criticism of doing that test, and doing it would be irrational by Popper's lights since criticism is used to assess methodology and actions, not just theories about how the world works. This also answers the question about the nerves.

  • To make stuff a person performs some activity call it work. Non-work activity I will call leisure. The person will work then trade the stuff he makes for stuff he wants. The amount of work he will do will be the amount at which he prefers an additional unit of leisure to the additional unit of income he would get from the stuff he makes. – alanf Mar 28 '15 at 16:15
  • > So according to you, the test should be tested because test itself can be one of the "science". Tests can be criticised, they are not necessarily tested by experiment. This is not wordplay, there is no means of generating knowledge other than conjecture and criticism. – alanf Mar 28 '15 at 16:18
  • Marxism purported to make predictions about the future: the dictatorship of the proletariat etc. Popper criticised that. Are you claiming that Marxism made no such predictions? – alanf Mar 28 '15 at 16:22
  • I am sorry I'm not so sure about your theory about the work. As for the philosophy of the work, I completely agree with his view. I am sorry searching the exact word he wore in his works is quite time consuming, ( in addition to it I read them not in English ) so in summary, Marx's view on the work ( by me ). "The work is an expenditure of a certain amount of human muscles, nerves, brain thorough which we can conceive or confirm that we human beings are the Nature too through such exchanging process with the Nature" This is not his exact word, but he said such kind of stuff somewhere. – Kentaro Mar 28 '15 at 18:14
  • I'm sorry it needs to take time to quote his exact words. Your definition about the work seems to be contradicting to me, the reason of which is in the former sentence you define the work as "an activity called work", while in the latter sentence you say "The amount of work he will do will be the amount at which he prefers an additional unit of leisure to the additional unit of income" which doe not make sense at all to me, sorry. – Kentaro Mar 28 '15 at 18:17

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