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International Journal of Advanced Engineering, Management and Science

Popper’s Piecemeal Engineering and Social Reform in Africa

( Vol-5,Issue-1,January 2019 )

Author(s): Dr Hyginus Chibuike Ezebuilo

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Page No: 73-79
ijaems crossref doiDOI: 10.22161/ijaems.5.1.10


Piecemeal Engineering, Social Reform.


One of the most important themes of Popper’s political thought is his idea of piecemeal social engineering. Karl Popper’s piecemeal engineering is intended primarily to detect social problems and assess the results of societal policies with the aim of solving them gradually. Popper thus understands his piecemeal engineering as a requirement for social transformation. He advocates this view over and against utopian social planning. In discussing Poppers piecemeal engineering as a model for achieving necessary major social and political change, this paper considers the political philosophy aspect of Popper’s philosophy as it relates to his notion of piecemeal engineering. Here Popper emphasizes openness of society. But what is of particular interest to us is the question of the scale and speed of social change that is needed in a society, particularly as it concerns less developed nations. Given the scale of socio-economic and political change needed in less developed nations, we contextualize this study to Africa using the critical and analytic methods in philosophy. Popper develops thoroughgoing arguments that open democratic societies are far superior to closed totalitarian regimes that Marxism heralds. No doubt, Popper may be right in his criticism of historicism. Yet for all of this, we are concerned about what we see as a defect in Popper’s political philosophy, namely how one can truly make use of Popper’s political philosophy to get fully informed about legitimate political aspiration for one’s part of the world. The point is that science, unlike the political ideals for societies, is not meant to reflect cultural difference. Popper’s insistence that social engineering must proceed piecemeal therefore seems praiseworthy only in an already deeply civilized society, but in disrupted and corrupted circumstances, such as those in some parts of Africa, insistence on merely piecemeal social engineering is hard to defend. This paper rather argues that what it calls “piecemeal-holistic political reform” is more likely to bring about the desired social transformation in Africa and is a defensible approach that is not vulnerable to Popper’s arguments against utopian social engineering. Holism—Engagement in large-scale social planning.

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