Paul Feyerabend’s defense of astrology

Massimo Pigliucci in Plato's Footnote:

ScreenHunter_2190 Sep. 05 10.22Paul Feyerabend was the enfant terrible of 1960s philosophy of science. His most famous book, Against Method argued that science is a quintessentially pragmatic enterprise, with scientists simply using or discarding what does and does not work, meaning that there is no such thing as the scientific method. It’s not for nothing that he was referred to as a methodological anarchist. (Incidentally, the new edition of the book, with introduction by Ian Hacking, is definitely worth the effort.)

Throughout his career as an iconoclast he managed to piss off countless philosophers and scientists, for example by once cheering creationists in California for their bid to get “creation science” taught in schools. That, Feyerabend thought, would teach a lesson to self-conceited scientists and keepers of order and rationality. But he wasn’t stupid, immediately adding that the creationists themselves would then surely become just as dogmatic and self-conceited as the scientific establishment itself. His hope was for a balance of forces, a 1960s version of John Stuart Mill’s famous concept of the free market of ideas, where the best ones always win, in the long run. (If only.)

When I was a young scientist I wasn’t too fond of Feyerabend, to put it mildly. And even as an early student of philosophy of science, I felt much more comfortable with the likes of Popper or even Kuhn (despite the famous intellectual rivalry between the two) than with the very idea of methodological anarchism. But while some people turn more conservative when they age, I guess I’ve become — to my surprise — more of an anarchist, and I have slowly, though not quite completely, re-evaluated Feyerabend.

More here.