The Logic of Scientific Discovery

The Logic of Scientific Discovery is a 1959 book about the philosophy of science by the philosopher Karl Popper. Popper rewrote his book in English from the 1934 (imprint '1935') German original, titled Logik der Forschung. Zur Erkenntnistheorie der modernen Naturwissenschaft, which literally translates as, "Logic of Research: On the Epistemology of Modern Natural Science"'.[1]

The Logic of Scientific Discovery
Cover of the first edition
AuthorKarl Popper
Original titleLogik der Forschung
Cover artistDibakar Das
SubjectPhilosophy of science
Media typePrint
Pages513 (2002 & 2005 Routledge editions)
ISBN3-1614-8410-X (2005 German edition)
0-4152-7844-9 (2002 Psychology Press edition)
1-1344-7002-9 (2005 Routledge revised edition)


Popper argues that science should adopt a methodology based on falsifiability, because no number of experiments can ever prove a theory, but a reproducible experiment or observation can refute one. According to Popper: "non-reproducible single occurrences are of no significance to science. Thus a few stray basic statements contradicting a theory will hardly induce us to reject it as falsified. We shall take it as falsified only if we discover a reproducible effect which refutes the theory".[2]:66 Popper argues that science should adopt a methodology based on "an asymmetry between verifiability and falsifiability; an asymmetry which results from the logical form of universal statements. For these are never derivable from singular statements, but can be contradicted by singular statements".[3]


The Logic of Scientific Discovery is famous.[4] The psychologist Harry Guntrip wrote that its publication "greatly stimulated the discussion of the nature of scientific knowledge", including by philosophers who did not completely agree with Popper, such as Thomas Kuhn and Horace Romano Harré.[5] Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, valued the work. The biographer Vincent Brome recalls Jung remarking in 1938 that it exposed "some of the shortcomings of science".[6] The historian Peter Gay described Popper's work as "an important treatise in epistemology".[7] The philosopher Bryan Magee wrote that Popper's criticisms of logical positivism were "devastating". In his view, Popper's most important argument against logical positivism is that, while it claimed to be a scientific theory of the world, its central tenet, the verification principle, effectively destroyed all of science.[8] The physicists Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont argued that critiques of Popper's work have provoked an "irrationalist drift", and that a significant part of the problems that currently affect the philosophy of science "can be traced to ambiguities or inadequacies" in Popper's book.[9]


  1. Popper, Karl (2014) [1979]. Hansen, Troels Eggers (ed.). The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge. Andreas Pickel, trans. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge. p. 485. ISBN 978-1-13562676-1.
  2. Popper, Karl (2002) [1959]. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge. p. 66. ISBN 0-41527843-0.
  3. Popper, Karl (2002). p. 19.
  4. Cornforth, Maurice (1968). The Open Philosophy and the Open Society. A Reply to Dr. Karl Popper's Refutations of Marxism. New York City: International Publishers. p. 5. Dr. Popper himself occupies an unchallengeable position in modern letters as an exponent of principles of scientific method. His contributions in this sphere, first in his famous book Logik der Forschung (published in English under the title Logic of Scientific Discovery).
  5. Guntrip, H (September 1978). "Psychoanalysis and some scientific and philosophical critics: (Dr Eliot Slater, Sir Peter Medawar and Sir Karl Popper)". The British Journal of Medical Psychology. 51 (3): 207–24. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8341.1978.tb02466.x. PMID 356870.
  6. Brome, Vincent (1980). Jung: Man and Myth. London: Paladin. p. 14. ISBN 0-586-08361-8.
  7. Gay, Peter (1988). Style in History: Gibbon, Ranke, Macaulay, Burckhardt. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 232. ISBN 0-393-30558-9.
  8. Magee, Bryan. Confessions of a Philosopher. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997, p. 46.
  9. Sokal, Alan. Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture. Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 182-183.
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