Loving Lakatos

Reaching EquilibriumFor Lakatos (1963), pure science should not be adulterated with human idiosyncrasies, and contesting concepts should be dialectically argued, until arriving at a consensus.  That is, arguments are posited, volleyed, until the final result is a gestalt of understanding that neither party could have arrived at alone.  It is not about persuading or breaking other conceptions; opinions are flexible.  Lakatos felt that if the argument is rational, there will be no emotional adherence to one side or the other, because both parties share the ultimate goal of collaboratively reaching the truth.  Quakers for example, are notorious for dialectic discourse, as decisions made within their communities must be unanimous before actions are taken.  It does take a long time, however, and a conscious effort must be made to leave your ego at the door!


  1. I’m taking a course titled “Childrens’ Mathematical Thinking” and we’ve been talking for weeks in response to von Glasersfeld, a radical constructivist. The central epistemological belief is that there isn’t really “truth” in the way western philosophy has approached the concept. It makes me wonder how truth is being viewed here. Is it negotiated, flexible, and more a social construct then an object in itself? I guess this also makes me question what’s considered rational – probably conceived and experienced differently among learners.

    • Hi Keri,
      My impression is that Lakatos believes there is a truth out there to be found, a truth that is pure, that doesn’t change. It’s a different way of looking at science than Kuhn, who says science is a social construct. Look what happened to Galileo! He questioned the geocentric scientific “truth”, and spent his last ten years imprisoned. At what point did the Earth start spinning around the sun? Wasn’t it a scientific fact that the sun rotated around the Earth? Didn’t everyone believe this to be true? What truths do we hold today that will be thought of as ridiculous tomorrow?

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