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Back in october 2002, we decided that sir karl Raimond Popper would be our house philosopher. His twelve rules of scientific methodology also define the guidelines for our working ethics. We have therefore allowed ourselves to quote him here. popper reveals much in his work about the innermost nature of ic! berlin – just replace scientist with “sheet-metal glasses producer”:
1. I therefore propose a new working ethic, especially for, but not only for, scientists. I pro- pose to define it in the following twelve principles with which I am closing. 1. Our objective speculative knowledge is always more extensive than what a human being can actually master. There are therefore no authorities. That is also true within specialized fields.
2. It is impossible to avoid all mistakes or even to avoid all in themselves avoidable mistakes. Mistakes are made by all scientists continually.The old idea that mistakes can be avoided, and therefore must be avoided, must be amended: It is in itself a mistake.
3. Of course it remains our task to avoid mistakes whenever possible. In doing just that, however, we need to be aware of how difficult it is to avoid them, and – that nobody is able to achieve this completely. It is also not achieved by those inventive scientists who are guided by their intuition: Intuition can also lead us astray.
4.Even in the most proven of our theories, there can be hidden mistakes; and it is the specific task of the scientist to search for such mistakes. The ascertainment that a much applied practical procedure is flawed can be an important discovery.
5.Therefore, we are obliged to change our perception concerning mistakes. It is here, where our practical ethical reform must begin. This is because the old working ethic attitude encour- ages us to cover up our mistakes, to hide them, and to forget them as quickly as possible.
6. The new basic working law is, that we, in order to learn to avoid making mistakes, must learn from these very mistakes. Therefore, to cover up mistakes is the greatest intellectual sin.
7. We must continually keep vigil for our mistakes. When we find them, we must let them them make their impression on us; analyse them from every side, in order to identify their causes.
8. In this way, self-critical demeanor and com- plete sincerity become matters of duty.
9. As we must learn from our mistakes, so must we learn to accept it, yes, gratefully accept it, when others make us aware of our mistakes. When we make others aware of their mistakes, we should always remember that we too have made similar mistakes. And we should remember that the greatest of scientists have also made mistakes. I do not want say that our mistakes are as a rule excusable: We cannot let up in our watchfulness. But it is humanly impossible not to make mistakes repeatedly.
10. We have to be clear, that we need other people in our search for the discovery of and correction of mistakes (and they need us as (well); especially people who have grown up in another atmosphere. This also leads to tolerance.
11. We must learn that self-criticism is the best criticism, that the criticism of others is, however, necessary. This criticism is almost just as good as self-criticism.
12. Rational criticism must always be specific: it must always site specific reasons, explain why specific declarations, specific hypotheses seem to be false, or specific arguments seem to be invalid. It must be guided by the aim of getting closer to the objective truth. In this way, it must be impersonal.”
I beg of you to view my formulations as suggestions. They should show that, even in the ethical sphere, discussible and progressive suggestions can be made.”
(Source: Karl R. Popper: “Patience and Intel- lectual Responsibility (stolen from Xenophanes and from Voltaire)” in: Karl R. Popper: “Auf der Suche nach einer besseren Welt,” München 1989, page 227 – 229)
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