Post-positivist

Post-positivist

In the philosophy of science, the term post-positivist has been used in two ways:

1) To refer to scientific philosophies that arose after, and in reaction to, positivism. This use of the term would include (among others) phenomenology, Marxism, critical theory, poststructuralism, and postmodernism (see Postpositivism).

2) To refer to a reformed version of positivism that addresses criticisms made by the schools of thought listed under the first definition, but preserves the basic assumptions of positivism, i.e. ontological realism, the possibility of objective truth, and the use of experimental methodology. Post-positivism of this type is common in the social sciences for both practical and conceptual reasons. Practically, it is often impossible or unethical to use the kind of carefully controlled laboratory studies characteristic of physics or chemistry for social phenomena. Conceptually, it is often noted that unlike the subjects of natural science, people are reflexive -- that is, they may alter their behavior based on the presence or findings of the researcher. Critics of this type of post-positivism charge that it has not gone far enough from the basic assumptions of positivism.


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