Imre Lakatos

The Lakatosian research programme deliberately provides a framework within which research can be conducted on the basis of "first principles" (the "hard core"), which are shared by those involved in the research programme and accepted for the purpose of that research without further proof or debate. In this regard, it is similar to Kuhn's notion of a paradigm. Lakatos sought to replace Kuhn's paradigm, guided by an irrational "psychology of discovery", with a research programme no less coherent or consistent, yet guided by Popper's objectively valid logic of discovery.

Lakatos' model provides for the possibility of a research programme that is not only continued in the presence of troublesome anomalies but that remains progressive despite them. For Lakatos, it is essentially necessary to continue on with a theory that we basically know cannot be completely true, and it is even possible to make scientific progress in doing so, as long as we remain receptive to a better research programme that may eventually be conceived of. In this sense, it is, for Lakatos, an acknowledged misnomer to refer to "falsification" or "refutation", when it is not the truth or falsity of a theory that is solely determining whether we consider it "falsified", but also the availability of a less false theory. A theory cannot be rightfully "falsified", according to Lakatos, until it is superseded by a better (i.e. more progressive) research programme. This is what he says is happening in the historical periods Kuhn describes as revolutions and what makes them rational as opposed to mere leaps of faith or periods of deranged social psychology, as Kuhn argued.

"A given fact is explained scientifically only if a new fact is predicted with it... The idea of growth and the concept of empirical character are soldered into one." See pages 34–35 of The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes, 1978.