Imre Lakatos, 1960

Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922February 2, 1974) was a Hungarian philosopher of mathematics and science, known for his thesis of the fallibility of mathematics and its 'methodology of proofs and refutations' in its pre-axiomatic stages of development, and also for introducing the concept of the 'research programme' in his methodology of scientific research programmes.


  • Kuhn as does Popper rejects the idea that science grows by accumulation of eternal truths.. But while according to Popper science is ‘revolution in permanence’, and criticism the heart of the scientific enterprise, according to Kuhn revolution is exceptional and, indeed, extra-scientific, and criticism is, in ‘normal’ times, anathema... The clash between Popper and Kuhn is not about a mere technical point in epistemology. It concerns our central intellectual values, and has implications not only for theoretical physics but also for the underdeveloped social sciences and even for moral and political philosophy. If even in science there is no other way of judging a theory but by assessing the number, faith and vocal energy of its supporters, then this must be even more so in the social sciences: truth lies in power. Thus Kuhn’s position would vindicate, no doubt, unintentionally, the basic political credo of contemporary religious maniacs (‘student revolutionaries’).
  • For the sophisticated falsificationist a scientific theory T is falsified if and only if another theory T' has been proposed with the following characteristics :
    (1) T' has excess empirical content over T: that is, it predicts novel facts, that is, facts improbable in the light of, or even forbidden, by T;
    (2) T' explains the previous success of T, that is, all the unrefuted content of T is included (within the limits of observable error) in the content of T'; and
    (3) some of the excess content of T' is corroborated.
    • Lakatos (1978, p. 31) cited in: Jean Pierre Colson (1989) Krashens Monitortheorie. p. 40.
  • Blind commitment to a theory is not an intellectual virtue: it is an intellectual crime.
Lakatos, Imre; John Worrall and Gregory Currie, eds. (1978). The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. Philosophical Papers, Volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1. 

Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, 1970

Imre Lakatos, Alan Musgrave (1970) Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge

  • For centuries knowledge meant proven knowledge... Einstein's results again turned the tables and now very few philosophers or scientists still think that scientific knowledge is, or can be, proven knowledge. But few realize that with this the whole classical structure of intellectual values falls in ruins and has to be replaced.
    • p. 92 as cited in: Anthony C. Thiselton (2007) The Hermeneutics of Doctrine. p. 166.
  • Our empirical criterion for a series of theories is that it should produce new facts. The idea of growth and the concept of empirical character are soldered into one.
    • p. 119.

The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes: Volume 1, 1976

  • It would be wrong to assume that one must stay with a research programme until it has exhausted all its heuristic power, that one must not introduce a rival programme before everybody agrees that the point of degeneration has probably been reached.
    • p. 68.

Quotes about Imre Lakatos

  • Lakatos realized and admitted that the existing standards of rationality, standards of logic included, were too restrictive and would have hindered science had they been applied with determination. He therefore permitted the scientist to violate them (he admits that science is not "rational" in the sense of these standards). However, he demanded that research programmes show certain features in the long run they must be progressive.... I have argued that this demand no longer restricts scientific practice. Any development agrees with it.
    • Paul Feyerabend (1978). Science in a Free Society. London: NLB. ISBN 0-86091-008-3.
  • Lakatos (1978) coined the term immunization for a methodological decision to deflect a falsification from the hard core of a research program by making modifications in the protective belt.
    • Frank Zenker (2009) Ceteris Paribus in Conservative Belief Revision. p. 71.

See also

Philosophy of science
ConceptsAnalysisA priori and a posterioriCausalityDemarcation problemFactInductive reasoningInquiryNatureObjectivityObservationParadigmProblem of inductionScientific methodScientific revolutionScientific theory
Related topicsAlchemyEpistemologyHistory of scienceLogicMetaphysicsPseudoscienceRelationship between religion and scienceSociology of scientific knowledge
Philosophers of science PlatoAristotleStoicism
AverroesAvicennaRoger BaconWilliam of Ockham
Francis BaconThomas HobbesRené DescartesGalileo GalileiPierre GassendiIsaac NewtonDavid Hume
Immanuel KantFriedrich SchellingWilliam WhewellAuguste ComteJohn Stuart MillHerbert SpencerWilhelm WundtCharles Sanders PeirceHenri PoincaréPierre DuhemRudolf SteinerKarl Pearson
Alfred North WhiteheadBertrand RussellAlbert EinsteinOtto NeurathC. D. BroadMichael PolanyiHans ReichenbachRudolf CarnapKarl PopperW. V. O. QuineThomas KuhnImre LakatosPaul FeyerabendJürgen HabermasIan HackingBas van FraassenLarry LaudanDaniel Dennett
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