Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Frédérick Guillaume Dufour
The concept of positivism has had different careers in the philosophy of science and in the social sciences and political science. Whereas in the philosophy of science, it is often used to denote a specific school in the history of philosophical thought of its époque , the concept is still used in the social sciences to refer to a broad range of theses, attitudes, and dispositions generally associated with the scientific method. As a school in the history of philosophical thought, positivism is usually characterized by its research of the identification and explanation of universal laws in unity, or in conformity, within the practice of the natural sciences and especially physics. These laws should be discovered not through induction but by theoretically oriented experimentations. In the social sciences, there is a tendency among some tenants and critics of positivism to characterize it as a homogeneous epistemological tradition. This entry nuances ...