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Post-behavioralism forwards to this article, despite these topics being different. I'm not an expert in either topics, so does anyone else have an opinion on whether they should be split? --Vince |Talk| 17:18, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Arne Næss[edit]

I think Arne Næss' has done a great job that might be relevant for the 2nd point. I don't have access to it but "Pluralist and Possibilist Aspect of the Scientific Enterprise" suggests solutions to the positivist-issues. Anyone more familiar than me that can help out? This method is in wide usage in Norway, but may be confused for relativism. --Benjaminbruheim (talk) 02:35, 4 January 2008 (UTC)


This article is virtually incoherent. I'll just outline some basic problems:

  1. First and foremost, it's not clear what is meant by `positivism'. The work of the members of the Vienna Circle before World War II? All of the Circle members, or only some of them, such as Reichenbach and Shlick? All of the Vienna Circle plus such British philosophers as Russell and Ayer? Plus postwar work by Hempel, Quine, and Nelson Goodman?
  2. Dewey died in 1952. He was most influential in the 1920s and '30s, before `positivism' arrived in the US with the German-speaking refugees of the Nazi rise to power. So he was `postpositivistic' in the sense that he came after August Comte, but that's clearly not what this article is suggesting. His pragmatism is similar in certain respects to logical empiricist thought (for example, both he and Neurath were advocates of what Neurath called physicalism and methodological unification of the sciences) but, of course, very different in other respects (for example, while Neurath and other leftist members of the Vienna Circle were noncognitivists about ethics, Dewey was a cognitivist).
  3. While Popper rose to prominence and wrote some important books after World War II, his most important books -- The Logic of Scientific Discovery and The Open Society and Its Enemies -- were written before 1945. While his work was partially in reaction to that of Vienna Circle philosophers (especially Neurath), it is incorrect to call it post-positivism. Indeed, when `positivism' and `empiricism' are used as epithets, they're often directed at ideas about rationality that Popper and members of the Vienna Circle shared.
  4. The first two paragraphs of the `Amendments to positivism' section -- besides being incredibly vague -- are based on a cartoon history of logical empiricism. I don't think any members of the Vienna Circle would ever have disagreed with the claim that `knowledge is not based on unchallengeable, rock-solid foundations', for example. All science-minded philosophers in the '20s and '30s had to be fallibilists, in order to explain how Newtonian physics could have been so successful for so long while being so fundamentally wrong.
  5. I have no idea what `the knower and known cannot be separated' is supposed to mean. Is it supposed to be a denial of Reichenbach's distinction between context of discovery and context of justification? If so, this is also inaccurate as a way to distinguish `positivists' from `postpositivists' -- Reichenbach invented this distinction as a way to reject the views of Otto Neurath, who was also logical empiricist. (talk) 17:03, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree with your critique--"post-positivism" seems to be a term used by social scientists, in particular sociologists and people in education, not philosophers. John Zammito's book is a pretty good overview of the history of this line of thought. I recently came across the same peculiar use of "post-positivism" in John W. Creswell, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 3rd edition, 2009. Creswell's book categorizes the philosophical worldviews of researchers into post-positivism, social constructivism, advocacy/participatory worldview, and pragmatism. And his version of pragmatism seems to be have Richard Rorty as a guide ("[Pragmatists] believe that we need to stop asking questions about reality and the laws of nature.") Really? Lippard (talk) 00:09, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Single shared reality[edit]

I think the statement that postpositivism claims that no single shared reality exists is wrong.

Here [1] and here [2] it is stated otherwise.

--O.mangold (talk) 16:13, 3 July 2009 (UTC)


It's odd to set Popper next to the idea that "conjectures are justified by a set of warrants", which as the linked article theory of justification says, he would strongly disagree with. This article makes it sound as is justificationism is a core and essential part of critiquing positivism, which is just weird. (talk) 09:14, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

You're right, there should be more on critical rationalism, etc. The article is pretty much a stub. You're welcome to go ahead and develop it better if you feel like you have a good sense for the material (But keep in mind that antipositivism is a separate article, btw.) Popper's pic is there because of his role in critiquing logical positivism (second paragraph). DarwinPeacock (talk) 21:23, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Ontological Realism[edit]

Ontological Realism is a part of Popper's Theory, but not a part of logical positivism, which rejects ontological realism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:51, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

This is what I came here to say. Positivism, beyond a shadow of a doubt up until Post-Positivism, was not a realist position. Some post-positivists subscribe to a form of critical realism. But the idea that positivism generally is realist is a common misconception and is absolutely wrong. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:31, 22 September 2011 (UTC)