Postpositivism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In philosophy and models of scientific inquiry, postpositivism (also called postempiricism) is a metatheoretical stance that critiques and amends positivism. Postpositivists believe that human knowledge is based not on unchallengeable, rock-solid foundations, but rather upon human conjectures. As human knowledge is thus unavoidably conjectural, the assertion of these conjectures is warranted, or more specifically, justified by a set of warrants, which can be modified or withdrawn in the light of further investigation. However, postpositivism is not a form of relativism, and generally retains the idea of objective truth.

One of the first thinkers to critique positivism was Sir Karl Popper. He advanced falsification, a critique to 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. Thomas Kuhn's idea of paradigm shifts offers a stronger critique of positivism, arguing that it is not simply individual theories but whole worldviews that must occasionally shift in response to evidence.

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 its reformation to meet these critiques. It preserves the basic assumptions of positivism: ontological realism, the possibility and desirability of objective truth, and the use of experimental methodology. Postpositivism of this type is common in the social sciences (especially sociology) for both practical and conceptual reasons.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Postpositivism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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