Scientific Manifesto

The Open Science Repository puts into practice the philosophy of science of Karl Popper by publishing the world of scientific problems, hypotheses and tests (Popper's world three) under open access and open review.

Karl Popper by Lucinda Douglas-MenziesKarl Popper, the greatest philosopher of the 20th century

Our interpretation of the philosophy of science of Karl Popper

  • Science is a tentative explanation of things; it is made of compelling problems and hypothetical solutions for them.
  • Science can dig deeper and deeper into the structure of reality, discovering new problems and proposing new theoretical solutions for old problems.
  • Universal laws, or regularities, are the main logical component of scientific explanations. Universal laws try to describe the structural properties of reality.
  • Because universal laws are logically open to refutation, they are perpetually hypothetical for us. We can never know for certain whether they are true or not.
  • Scientific knowledge thus is entirely and forever made up of suppositions.
  • Even being hypothetical knowledge, science contains the best knowledge on which we can rely.
  • Science does not oppose mythology, religion and literature. Science and these other intellectual activities are built upon the very same problems.
  • People go to churches or enjoy poetry for the same motives they go to laboratories and do scientific research: to touch real knowledge problems that challenge our lives.
  • Religion and art are forms of immediate transcendence. Science is step-by-step transcendence. All are legitimate attempts to get closer to the truth.
  • The difference between science and mythology, religion or literature is that science adheres to the tradition of evaluating hypothetical explanations critically, which, whenever possible, includes empirical tests.
  • Therefore, the method of science is the checking of theories; that is, their critical evaluation and replacement by better candidates, guided by the idea of searching for truth.
  • Truth, as a potential objective set containing all true descriptions of reality, does exist. Nevertheless, truth is beyond human certainty, just as Xenophanes (DK, B18; 35, 34) said: 'But as for certain truth no man has known it... and even if by chance he were to utter the final truth, he would himself not know it, for all is but a woven web of guesses'.
  • The disregard of theories previously supposed (as hypotheses) to be true, by means of successful attempts to refute them, along with the discovery of relevant, deep, new theories (always hypothetical ones), constitutes the progress of science.
  • Scientific knowledge is a set of hypothetical descriptions of problems, theories and critical arguments, including historical knowledge about problems, theories and arguments once supposed to describe truth but now replaced by others or considered false.
  • Science is composed of linguistic descriptions, abstract objects; it is objective. Science has created an entire objective world of problems, theories and arguments. The ability to interact with such a world of abstract objects is one of the main differential characteristics of humankind. Such ability is learned from education.
  • In biological evolutionary terms, culture and science have the same function of new tissues, organs and physiological systems, with the great advantage of being abstract objects outside the body.
  • Evolutionarily, language and science are a fundamental move towards the non-violent development of life. Although they are a product of natural selection, they permit us to transcend its violent aspect: wrong theories can collide with reality, die and be replaced by better ones without violence against the individuals that hold them. Unfortunately, we, humans, are still in transition from violence to a non-violent society, even in science.
  • Humans do science using their ingenuity and creativity. Science is a creative activity just like art or myth creation.
  • There are no authorities in science.
  • Because science is, in its main part, made of knowledge about errors, the discovery of errors in accepted or proposed theories is one of its challenges. Every human can contribute to such scientific challenge; it is not limited to scientists.
  • Also, every human can contribute to the scientific challenge of imagining new theories. This task is not a privilege of scientists.
  • Scientists, scholars and students should contribute to diverse fields of science, not limiting their work to the fields in which they are specialists. Non-scientists should not be discouraged from contributing to any field.
  • Financial barriers should not be placed between scientific knowledge and people. Scientific papers and communications must be legally available to everyone, regardless of payment.
  • Everyone has the right to debate scientific ideas.
  • The aim of science is the discovery of the structural properties of reality, and of relevant universal laws. It is an infinite process, for the discovered laws also need to be explained by new theories.
  • Through science humans deepen and accelerate the exploration of new ecological niches, new possibilities for life, thus enlarging the realm of our own freedom.
  • Scientific theories, however, are perpetually subject to error: they are hypothetical forever, even those most successfully tested.
  • Socratic intellectual modesty derives from everything above: The only thing we know is that we know nothing for certain, for all we know is subject to error. As we penetrate further into the structure of reality, discovering and bypassing many previous errors, we discover new problems and expect to find new errors, with an increasing awareness of our immense ignorance.

Cite the manifesto


The Editors of the Open Science Repository (2012). Scientific Manifesto Based on the Philosophy of Science of Karl Popper. Open Science Repository Philosophy, 1, 09, OSR0000071.


Registered in the DOI resolution system as: 10.7392/journal.philosophy.0000071

Read Karl Popper

The ideas above describe our interpretation of the philosophy of science of Karl Popper. Reading Popper is an infinite process of learning from one of the most brilliant minds of all time.

We strongly encourage visitors to read firstly the books written by Popper himself, not those written by interpreters. Unfortunately, many interpreters misunderstand or misrepresent Popper's philosophy.

Main references

Must-read Popper's books on these ideas are "Objective Knowledge", "Conjectures and Refutations" and "The Logic of Scientific Discovery".

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