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A voice from the past - hear an Imre Lakatos lecture almost 30 years on

Photograph of Imre LakatosThe voice of distinguished LSE philosopher Imre Lakatos can be heard giving a lecture once again - almost 30 years after it was first broadcast.

To mark the 80th anniversary of Lakatos's birth on 9 November 1922, the Imre Lakatos Memorial Fund at LSE is making available on the internet the recording of his 20 minute BBC Open University radio talk 'Science and Pseudoscience', originally broadcast in June 1973.

This is the first time sound recordings of any lectures by the School's previous great academics have been made available on the internet, a novelty that may also be a world-wide 'first' for any university website. A transcript accompanies the sound recording on the online site at www.lse.ac.uk/lakatos/| 

Imre Lakatos was an internationally renowned philosopher of mathematics and science who first come to prominence in what is now known as 'the Popper-Kuhn-Lakatos-Feyerabend debate' of the mid 1960's and thereafter about the empirical rationality of science or not. He lectured at LSE from 1960 until his death in 1974 at the age of 51.

Alex Bellamy, who had the original idea and helped set up the site with LSE philosophers and web experts, said: 'The talk is essentially a summary of the central thesis of what sadly turned out to be the last annual course of Lakatos's renowned and highly entertaining LSE lectures on scientific method, given in autumn 1973 and first published in 1999.' [See Chapter 1 of 'For and Against Method: Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend' edited by Matteo Motterlini, Chicago University Press, 1999.]

'We hope it will be a pleasure for those who know his work to hear the man himself, and will provide his own most accessible introduction to it for those who do not. Ideally, we would like to make more sound and video archive material of great LSE academics available on the web.'


Contact Jessica Winterstein, LSE Press Office, on 020 7955 7060, email j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk| or email Alex Bellamy at a.c.bellamy@lse.ac.uk| 

Notes to editors:

Biographies of Imre Lakatos are listed on the website under Useful Links.  

The Lakatos Award is presented by LSE's Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method for an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science, and is endowed by The Latsis Foundation. The 2001 winner was Professor Judea Pearl. Other past winners are listed at www.lse.ac.uk/Dpts/Philosophy/lakatos/lakatosaward.htm| 

In the talk, Imre Lakatos outlines his distinctive view on the problem of distinguishing between science and pseudo-science, and why the solution is of vital social and political significance. He proposes that scientists regard the successful theoretical prediction of dramatic novel facts - such as the return of Halley's comet or the gravitational bending of light - as what demarcates good scientific theories from pseudo-scientific theories, and in spite of all scientific theories being forever confronted by numerous counter-examples.

8 November 2002