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Postpositivism

Thomas J. Fararo

Subject Cultural Studies
Sociological and Social Theory » Postmodern Theory

Key-Topics postmodernism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Extract

In the twentieth century the heritage of positivism as a philosophy of science underwent major changes. Earlier intellectual developments in the century led to logical positivism (and, with some variation in ideas, logical empiricism). The continuity with classical positivism was maintained in terms of opposition to metaphysics, but other and more specific doctrines were elaborated. A scientific theory, for instance, was said to be a formal deductive system with an empirical interpretation that enabled verification by appeal to observations. However, Popper (1959) , while not disputing the deductive system formulation, argued that the universality of theoretical statements made them impossible to verify. Rather, a theory was credible to the extent that it “proved its mettle” by surviving falsification efforts. But Kuhn (1970) noted that scientists usually worked within a paradigm and resisted efforts to revise it until anomalies that could not be resolved led to a revolutionary change of paradigm. By the late 1970s there was consensus that a postpositivist era had emerged in the philosophy of science, in which the “received view” was replaced by a variety of critical reformulations concerning the nature of scientific knowledge and, in particular, the structure of scientific theories (Suppe 1977). These developments have had ramifications for sociology. Sociological theory, in ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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