Research programmes, besides their negative heuristic, are also characterized by their positive heuristic.

— Imre Lakatos

The most tremendous Imre Lakatos quotes to discover and learn by heart

It would be wrong to assume that one must stay with a research programme until it has exhausted all its heuristic power, that one must not introduce a rival programme before everybody agrees that the point of degeneration has probably been reached.


The positive heuristic of the programme saves the scientist from becoming confused by the ocean of anomalies.


Blind commitment to a theory is not an intellectual virtue: it is an intellectual crime.


No experimental result can ever kill a theory: any theory can be saved from counterinstances either by some auxiliary hypothesis or by a suitable reinterpretation of its terms.


If even in science there is no a way of judging a theory but by assessing the number, faith and vocal energy of its supporters, then this must be even more so in the social sciences: truth lies in power.


Intellectual honesty consists in stating the precise conditions under which one will give up one's belief.


Philosophy of science without history of science is empty;

history of science without philosophy of science is blind.


The great scientific achievements are research programmes which can be evaluated in terms of progressive and degenerative problemshifts; and scientific revolutions consist of one research programme superceding (overtaking in progress) another. This methodology offers a new rational reconstruction of science.


Mathematics does not grow through a monotonous increase of the number of indubitably established theorems but through the incessant improvement of guesses by speculation and criticism, by the logic of proofs and refutations.


There is no falsification before the emergence of a better theory.


In degenerating programmes, however, theories are fabricated only in order to accommodate known facts


Einstein's results again turned the tables and now very few philosophers or scientists still think that scientific knowledge is, or can be, proven knowledge.


About Imre Lakatos

Quotes 24 sayings
Nationality Hungarian
Profession Philosopher
Birthday October 16

The classical example of a successful research programme is Newton's gravitational theory: possibly the most successful research programme ever.


Man's respect for knowledge is one of his most peculiar characteristics.

Knowledge in Latin is scientia, and science came to be the name of the most respectable kind of knowledge.


The history of mathematics, lacking the guidance of philosophy, [is] blind, while the philosophy of mathematics, turning its back on the most intriguing phenomena in the history of mathematics, is empty.


The proving power of the intellect or the senses was questioned by the skeptics more than two thousand years ago; but they were browbeaten into confusion by the glory of Newtonian physics.


One may rationally stick to a degenerating research programme until it is overtaken by a rival and even after. What one must not do is to deny its poor public record... It is perfectly rational to play a risky game: what is irrational is to deceive oneself about the risk.


The clash between Popper and Kuhn is not about a mere technical point in epistemology.


That sometimes clear ... and sometimes vague stuff ... which is ... mathematics.


Our empirical criterion for a series of theories is that it should produce new facts. The idea of growth and the concept of empirical character are soldered into one.


Belief may be a regrettably unavoidable biological weakness to be kept under the control of criticism: but commitment is for Popper an outright crime.


It is not that we propose a theory and Nature may shout NO;

rather, we propose a maze of theories, and Nature may shout INCONSISTENT.


Indeed, this epistemological theory of the relation between theory and experiment differs sharply from the epistemological theory of naive falsificationism.