Karl Popper’s critical rationalism and the politics of liberal-communitarianism.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Whether there are prospects for a liberal-communitarian philosophy with aims and objectives that enhance Karl Popper’s project of the open society I here argue in the affirmative. Such a philosophy promotes both self-determination by individuals and community enhancement of individual well-being. My argument for a liberal-communitarian philosophy develops out of Popper’s critical rationalism, exploiting the fact that in Popper’s philosophy, science and politics are intertwined and each is defined by both individual and social elements. In particular, Popper’s politics of liberalism are derived from the ethical and epistemological core of his critical rationalism, the latter originating in his philosophy of science, the former preceding it. Individuals become socially embedded with others as they engage in mutual criticism that is based upon a rational understanding of mutual respect, unity, and tolerance. I defend ontological claims about the social nature of the self and normative claims about the value of community which together make intelligible the idea that the self cannot exist outside of the context of community. This implies that the very consciousness of the self is constituted by interaction, interconnectedness and interrelationship with others. How well a philosophy that upholds individualism marries with the idea of the community, I show that Popper’s critical rationalism fruitfully addresses. Society must protect the individual’s capacity for rational criticism. Rational criticism is mutualistic. Critical rationalism as regards both science and politics is implicitly communitarian. Although Popper’s politics of liberalism are overtly individualistic, they also are implicitly communitarian. Popper’s ideas offer a basis for rational engagement with non-liberal ideologies that emphasis social and community togetherness.