The Rise and Fall of "Positivism": From a Viewpoint of the Philosophy of Science

Keiichi Noe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper is to survey the origin, historical development and the present state of "positivism" and "positivistic method" from a viewpoint of history and philosophy of sceince. The positivistic method stemmed from the spirit of "experimental philosophy" which promoted the Scientific Revolution in the seventeenth century, and was formulated as hypothetico-deductive method which combined "observation-experiment" with "verification-falsification" in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was this period that the classical positivism emerged and social sciences began to introduce the positivistic method. In the twentieth century, the Vienna Circle tried to realize the methodological unification between natural sciences and social sciences under the slogan of "unified science." But their radical reductionism which aimed to assimilate social sciences to natural sciences by introducing unified language of physics was suffered a setback as a result. After that the trend of "post-positivism" made an important alteration in understanding positivistic method by proposing new theses of "the theory-ladenness of observations", "the impossibility of crucial experiments" and so on. According to them, the relation between natural sciences and social sciences must be reconsidered not as hierarchy,but as pluralistic co-existence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-17
Number of pages2
JournalSociological Theory and Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Dec 1


  • Holism mustern
  • Hypothetico-deductive method
  • Positivism
  • The impossibility of crucial experiments
  • The theory-ladenness of observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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