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Kontinum epistemologi




Objectivity Subjectivity
Positivism has also highlighted the importance
of objectivity.
• In emphasizing the importance of providing
evidence, personal judgments and perceptions
are not accepted as “scientific” information.
• In summary, positivism has had important and
lasting effects on science and economic
research. But it is too limiting a philosophy to
be the dominant philosophy of science.
Three Periods of "Positivism"

• 19th Century Positivism

• Logical Positivism: Primarily 1930s
• Logical Empiricism: mainstream
philosophy of natural science 1940-
1980 (and continuing on in a slightly
modified way today – at least as the
obligatory point of reference)
 Enlightenment philosophy
 Science vs. metaphysics
 Empiricist epistemology
 David Hume (1711-1776)
 Reason and knowledge (deductive and inductive reasoning)
 Rationalist, analytic, a priori statements, true by definition
 Empirical, synthetic, a posteriori statements, true by
 Differential epistemology
 Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
 Law of three phases (social progress)
 Theological → Metaphysical → Scientific (positive)
 Envisaged “sociology” as last and greatest science
 Scientific knowledge as a historical process
Positivism and Social Inquiry
 Positivism
 Auguste Comte and modern epistemology
 Logical positivism
 Post-positivist philosophy of science
 Karl R. Popper – The Logic of Scientific Discovery
 Thomas S. Kuhn – The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
 Social inquiry
 King, Keohane and Verba – Designing Social Inquiry
 Rational choice theory
 Philosophical origins
 Economics
 Psychology
 Political science
 International relations
Positivist Science
• 5 Pillars
– Unity of scientific method
– Causal Relationships
– Empiricism
– Science and its process is Value-Free
– Foundation of science is based on logic
and maths
The Positivistic Approach
Define your research topic
Literature review
Define your research question(s)
i.e. hypothesis

Deductive Design data collection

Pilot study
Design data analysis

Collect data

Analyse data

Interpret results

Report your findings

Logical Positivism
• Logical positivism expands this to include reasoning
and theory as valid means to achieve reliable
• Contends that only “factual” knowledge from
observation (the senses) is trustworthy. Stresses
• While never a dominant philosophy in economics, it
became influential in the mid-20th century, with
proponents such as Wassily Leontief, Milton Friedman,
and Harry Johnson. John Maynard Keynes’s father
(John Neville Keynes) was an early proponent in the
 Logical Positivism
 Moritz Schlick (Vienna circle)
 Bertrand Russell
 Early Ludwig Wittgenstein (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus)
 Refuting the foundational nature of philosophy
 “Exact sciences” are paradigmatic, produce knowledge and
 Revolutionary scientific advances make previous
philosophies untenable
 Materialism
 Philosophical naturalism
 Empiricism
 Verifiability principle
Positivism (Logical Positivism and
Logical Empiricism)

Logical Positivism: Associated with the

Vienna circle 1920-35. Key figures
include Schlick, Carnap, Reichenbach,
Neurath, Ayer (in UK), Wittgenstein
(early), … Self-consciously scientistic
(with narrow conception of "science").
Goal to replace all philosophical
"knowledge" with knowledge in the
image of science.
Basic Logical Positivist View of
Scientific Theories (Four parts)

1. Logical vocabulary and formal rules of

inference (logic, mathematics, set
theory, …)
2. Theoretical vocabulary (VT) consisting of
theoretical terms (force, mass, gene,
friction, electron, price level, real
output, utility function, profit, …)
3. Observation vocabulary (V0) consisting
of terms that are directly observable
(the empirical basis of science)
4. Correspondence Rules (C)
relating/translating each of the
theoretical term in VT to the
observational language V0. Each
theoretical term will have an explicit
definition – will correspond to – in the
observational vocabulary.
• Logical Empiricism = Received View = Legend
(Revised-Reformed, 2nd generation logical
positivism): Richard Braithwaite, Carl Hempel,
Ernest Nagel, and others. Most work done in the U. S.
by philosophers who had studied in/with the Vienna
Circle. Academic professionalization of "fields"
within philosophy.

• Hempel, Carl G. (1965), Aspects of Scientific Explanation. N. Y.: The Free Press.
• Hempel, Carl G. (1966), Philosophy of Natural Science. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
• Nagel, Ernest (1961), The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation.
N. Y.: Harcourt, Brace & World.
• Salmon, Wesley C. (1966), The Foundations of Scientific Inference. Pittsburgh, PA: University of
Pittsburgh Press.

The Philosophical Position

Reality is objective and Reality is subjective

Ontology: what is the singular, apart from the and multiple as seen
nature of reality? researcher by the participants
Researcher is independent Researcher interacts
What is valid
from that being researched with that being researched
Value free and un-biased Value-laden and biased
Role of values
• Cross-sectional studies • Action Research
RESEARCH • Experimental studies • Case Studies
STRATEGY • Longitudinal studies • Ethnography
• Surveys • Grounded Theory
• Etc... • Hermeneutics, etc...
Features of Research Paradigms
Tends to produce quantitative Tends to produce qualitative data
Uses large samples Uses small samples
Concerned with hypothesis testing Concerned with generating theories
Data is highly specific and precise Data is rich and subjective
The location is artificial The location is natural
Reliability is high Reliability is low
Validity is low Validity is high
Generalises from sample to Generalises from one setting to
population another
Comparing Approaches


Questions that can be What? Why?

answered How much? How?
Direct observation,
Survey, Participant
Associated methods Experiment observation

Data type numbers Predominantly words

Finding Measure Meaning


• Latter part of 19th century

• Man as an actor could not be studied
through the methods of natural sciences
that focus on establishing general laws.
In the cultural sphere man is free (Burrell
and Morgan, 1979)
• Antipositivism (also known as interpretivism or
interpretive sociology) is the view in social
science that the social realm may not be subject
to the same methods of investigation as the
natural world; that academics must reject
empiricism and the scientific method in the
conduct of social research.
• Antipositivists hold that researchers should focus
on understanding the interpretations that social
actions have for the people being studied.
• Antipositivism relates to various historical debates in
the philosophy and sociology of science. In modern
practice, however, interpretivism may be equated with
qualitative research methods, while positivist research
is more quantitative. Positivists typically use research
methods such as experiments and statistical surveys,
while antipositivists use research methods which rely
more on ethnographic fieldwork, conversation/
discourse analysis or open-ended interviews. Positivist
and antipositivist methods are sometimes combined.
• In philosophy and models of scientific inquiry,
postpositivism (also called postempiricism) is a
metatheoretical stance that critiques and amends
– While positivists believe that the researcher and the
researched person are independent of each other,
postpositivists accept that theories, background,
knowledge and values of the researcher can influence
what is observed.
• However, like positivists, postpositivists pursue
objectivity by recognizing the possible effects of
• Postpositivists believe that a reality exists, like positivists
do, though they hold that it can be known only
imperfectly and probabilistically.
• One of the first thinkers to criticize logical positivism was
Sir Karl Popper. He advanced falsification in lieu of the
logical positivist idea of verifiability. Falsificationism
argues that it is impossible to verify that a belief is true,
though it is possible to reject false beliefs if they are
phrased in a way amenable to falsification.
• The other one : Thomas Kuhn's idea of paradigm shifts
offers a broader critique of logical positivism, arguing
that it is not simply individual theories but whole
worldviews that must occasionally shift in response to
• Postpositivism is an amendment to positivism that
recognizes these and other critiques against logical
positivism. It is not a rejection of the scientific method,
but rather a reformation of positivism to meet these
critiques. It reintroduces the basic assumptions of
positivism: ontological realism, the possibility and
desirability of objective truth, and the use of experimental
• The work of philosophers Nancy Cartwright and Ian
Hacking are representative of these ideas. Postpositivism
of this type is common in the social sciences (especially
sociology) for both practical and conceptual reasons.
• There is an open controversy as to whose work best
represents the origins of Postpositivism if that of Thomas
Kuhn or that of Karl Popper. Whereas the work of those
following T. Kuhn has led to a sociology of scientific
knowledge, the work of those following K. Popper pursue
classical problems of methodology and epistemology.
• Karl Popper (1963) Conjectures and Refutations
• Thomas Kuhn (1970) The Structure of Scientific
• Ian Hacking (1983) Representing and Intervening
• Andrew Pickering (1984) Constructing Quarks
• Peter Galison (1987) How Experiments End
• Nancy Cartwright (1989) Nature's Capacities and
Their Measurement
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Low Humility
High Humility