Sir Peter Medawar: science, creativity and the popularization of Karl Popper

N. Calver
2013 Notes and Records: the Royal Society journal of the history of science  
Sir Peter Medawar was respected by scientists and literati alike. It was perhaps not surprising, then, that he would choose to involve himself in the 'two cultures' debate of 1959 and beyond. The focus of his intervention was the philosophy of Sir Karl Popper. However, Medawar's Popper was not the guru of falsification familiar from philosophy textbooks. Medawar's distinctive interpretation of Popper treated him instead as the source of insights into the role of creativity and imagination in
more » ... d imagination in scientific inquiry. This paper traces the context for Medawar's adoption of Popperian philosophy, together with its application before the debate. It then examines, within the context of the debate itself, the way in which Medawar attempted to reconcile scientific inquiry with literary practice. Medawar became increasingly convinced that not only was induction epistemologically unsound, but it was also damaging to the public role of the scientist. His construction of Popperianism would, he envisaged, provide a worthy alternative for scientists' self-image.
doi:10.1098/rsnr.2013.0022 fatcat:a4edvqlepzcohgkq5jjixejkku