I’ve had a strong amateur interest in the philosophy of science since college days. Like most amateurs — and unlike most professionals — I have a natural affinity for Popper’s falsificationism as an account of the logic of what it means to be “science,” though after reading Kuhn I couldn’t deny its inadequacy as an historical explanation of how science grew, and grows. I can still recall my delight at first reading Conjectures and Refutations; whatever his merits or defects as a philospher, Popper’s prose is superb.
I’d read some of Feyerabend’s work, and (naturally, given my predilections) found him almost incomprehensibly perverse: an agent of Satan, or at least of Derrida. As a result, I’d never bothered to read his Against Method, until now.
Of course I’m in no position to check Feyerabend’s historical claims, and haven’t looked at what his opponents had to say. But it’s really quite a stunning essay, and quite convincing in places, especially in his discussion of Galileo and the Copernican Revolution.
That doesn’t make me any less distrustful of Feyerabend’s professedly “Dadaist” intentions; his plea for the “separation of science and state” still seems incomprehensible in a world where legislatures, officials, and judges need constantly to decide about matters of fact and prediction in situations where philosophic agnosticism provides no guide to present action. So I’m going to recommend that all my friends read Against Method, while praying that the Discovery Institute never finds it or grasps its polemical power.