Ozolins, J. (2010). Popper's Third World: Moral Habits and Moral Habitat [accepted manuscript]. Educational Philosophy and Theory,42(7), Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2008.00433.x
Karl Popper described the human habitat in terms of three worlds, the physical world of rocks and trees, the second world of human psychology, feelings, hopes and subjective experiences and the third world of works of art, morality and social institutions. This third world is just as real as the first and second worlds. If we accept Popper‟s notion of the three worlds, and that there are overlaps between these three worlds, our moral actions and values will also be subject to the same kinds of consideration of a repertoire of behaviours exhibited in particular environments. Thus, if we accept that human relationships form one of the elements of the third world and given naturalistic connections between the three spheres then just as habits are developed in relation to the second world, it can be concluded that we will develop a set of behaviours which we employ in our relationships with others. That is to say that we will develop moral habits. Moreover, it is also apparent that our behaviours will also be dependent on the kind of moral habitat in which we find ourselves.
There are three main problems to which this analysis leads and on which we will focus in this paper. Firstly, there is the problem of the kind of moral environment - habitat – that we need to provide for human beings if they are to develop the kinds of moral values that we hold to be important. Secondly, there is the question of how we are to develop the kinds of moral habits themselves and thirdly, there is the question of how these moral habits and habitat are to be maintained. If we take Popper seriously then human beings have a crucial responsibility in the creation of a moral third world – that is, a habitat in which human beings can flourish. I conclude that though there is no consensus about the kind of moral habitat human beings flourish best in, it is nevertheless vital to continue dialogue.
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