1 Ratio Juris 1 (1988)

handle is hein.journals/raju1 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Ratio Juris. Vol. 1 No. 1 March 1988 (1-19)
copyright  Hans Albert 1988








Critical Rationalism:

The Problem of Method in

Social Sciences and Law*


HANS ALBERT

Abstract. The author characterizes the model of rationality devised by critical rationalism
in opposition to the classic model of rationality and as an alternative to this. He illustrates
and criticizes the trichotomous theory of knowledge which, going back to Max Scheler,
is received in a secularized version by Habermas and Apel, also under the influence of
the hermeneutic tradition of Heidegger and Gadamer and of the so-called critical theory
of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adomo. The author criticizes historicism as it expects
to be an alternative to naturalism and not to make use of the method based on scientific
laws. The author proposes as an example of technological social science the model
developed in economics starting from Adam Smith. With regard to legal theories, natural
law is rejected because of its sociomorphic cosmology. It is proposed that legal science
as social technology has two parts. One part aims at efficient interpretations of valid
law (for the space-time region concerned) and a second part aims at the construction
of efficient norms for the modification of valid law by legislation.**


I. Critical Rationalism and Its Model of Rationality
Karl Popper has characterized his book The Open Society and Its Enemies as a
critical introduction to the philosophy of society and politics (Popper 1950, v).
Some of his critics reject this characterization and accuse him of scientism; they
take his social philosophy to be nothing more than an inadequate - because
positivistic and therefore undialectic - socio-political extrapolation of a
methodology (Habermas 1963, 253). This criticism appeared for the first time in
the so-called German Positivist Dispute. It has been further developed by Karl
Otto Apel and by Paul Lorenzen and his school - the so-called Erlangen School
- in the philosophy of science. The criticism is not directed against Popper's
philosophy of science alone, but against the broader view which is known as
critical rationalism; it is thus directed against Popper's political theory as well.

   I am grateful to John Wettersten for his help in revising the English version of this paper.
** Abstract by M. La Torre.

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