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 Journal of Philosophy

 

The Attenuated Ramblings of a Madman: Feyerabend’s

anarchy examined

 

Sarah M. Roe, Graduate Student, University of California Davis

 

Abstract. The slogan ‘anything goes’ first appears in Paul Feyerabend’s book Against Method at the end of the first chapter. Since that time, philosophical literature has been peppered with criticism and cries of outrage towards Feyerabend’s call for anarchy. Many have speculated on what exactly was meant by the slogan and even more philosophers and scientists have quickly discarded Feyerabend’s antidote as the obvious ramblings of a madman.

In this essay, I will argue that Paul Feyerabend does not promote complete anarchy, contrary to his critics. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that Feyerabend promotes methodological and theoretical pluralism, and does not call for total chaos. First, I will briefly outline the overwhelmingly cynical yet popular reading of Feyerabend’s anarchical ideas. Unlike other contemporary perspectives, I will then argue for what I believe to be a much more fair reading of his anarchy as a prescription for the scientific discipline. I will conclude with postulating an overarching and interesting possibility, namely that Feyerabend’s call for anarchy is an attempt to distance philosophy from the scientific domain. Back