chapter  5
12 Pages

Popper’s ideal types: open and closed, abstract and concrete societies


An ideal type, according to Weber, is an analytical construct built out of empirical materials but, since it is an idealization, it corresponds to no concrete reality. The ideal type is created for purposes of thought and exists nowhere; it is in this sense utopian, but it is rooted in reality, so that it is criticizable, though not for its idealizations as such. The power of the philosophical notions of open society and of science as an open society in miniature is that, read as ideal types, they not only help us to criticize and to reform our social and political institutions, but also help expose the grave deficiencies in the social organization and politics of real, existing science and point to the need for reform.