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open society Karl POPPER's conception of a ‘free society’ in which all forms of knowledge and all social policies can be openly criticized. He regards it as the only form of society compatible with his falsificationist and critical rationalist epistemology (see also FALSIFICATIONISM, HISTORICISM sense 2). However, Popper's conception has been criticized (e.g. by FEYERABEND) as open only in an ‘élitist’ way and involving a ‘guided exchange’ between competing views where all the parties to an open debate are required to accept falsificationism. In this, Feyerabend finds Popper's concept less open, and less acceptable, than the conception of a liberal society found in J. S. MILL's On Liberty (1859).