chapter  8
10 Pages

Popper’s retreat and the “principle of rationality”

Karl Popper’s research program for social sciences, inspired from the neo-

classical economic analysis, was founded on the “analysis of the individual

situation”.1 In two seminal papers (Popper 1961, 1967) he introduced his

so-called “principle of complete rationality”: Individuals act rationally

when they act appropriately to their situation. As he insisted this proposi-

tion has no psychological, subjective, or hermeneutical basis. It is a uni-

versal proposition that is “not only false, but also nearly empty”. Οne

would say, it is metaphysical. This serious retreat from his own refutability

principle was for Popper the only way to save the empirical status of eco-

nomics, by considering rationality as an “animating principle” that plays a

role in situational analysis similar to that of Newton’s laws in the explana-

tion of motions in the solar system.