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that context). While the results obtained using experi- POSITIVIST PARADIGM mental methods provide valuable insights into the of , those results may lack external . emerged as a philosophical paradigm in the That is, the relations observed in the may not 19th century with ’s rejection of meta- be the same in the more complicated external world and his assertion that only scientific where a much greater number of factors interact. can reveal the about reality. It was later formally A positivist dealing with complex social problems established as the dominant in the such as unemployment and crime would be concerned early part of the 20th century by members of the Vienna with their visible manifestations (i.e., the unemployed Circle, including Gustav Bergmann, , individual or criminal who can be sensed or per- Herbert Feigl, Philipp Frank, Karl Menger, Otto ceived) rather than with the underlying causal mecha- Neurath, and Moritz Schlick. nisms that are invisible to us. Hence, positivist The sought to a unified sci- prescriptions tend to treat the symptoms rather than entific world-conception that rejects the use of philoso- the root cause of the problem. phy as a means of about the true nature of Positivism exerted an important influence on reality. Unfortunately, it failed as a coherent scientific practice in the social for decades in of because of a critical inconsistency between the early 20th century. This was especially true in the its of “reality” and its theory of “knowledge.” natural sciences where laboratory can Positivism adopted ’s theory of the closely approximate the real world environment, thus nature of reality (i.e., philosophical ). Hume allowing for accurate . In the social sci- believed that reality consists of atomistic (micro-level) ences, however, volition and make and independent events. He believed in the use of the the laboratory less reliable. Ultimately, its senses to generate knowledge about reality (i.e., scien- internal inconsistency resulted in the abandonment of tific method). He that philosophical and logi- positivism in favor of scientific approaches such as cal reasoning could lead us to “see” nonexisting links critical multiplism, which is based on the that between events occurring simultaneously. However, no one approach is ever sufficient for developing a positivism also adopted René Descartes’s epistemol- valid of a phenomenon. The applica- ogy (i.e., theory of knowledge). Descartes believed tion of critical judgment in investigating multiple that is the best way to generate knowledge questions using multiple measures, samples, about reality. His deductive method implies that events designs, and analyses are necessary to permit a con- are ordered and interconnected, and therefore reality is vergence on a valid understanding of a phenomenon. ordered and deducible. This internal inconsistency eventually undermined the validity of positivism. Fadhel Kaboub The positivist paradigm asserts that real events can See also Behavioral Methods, Assessment (v1); be observed empirically and explained with logical -Based Treatments (v2); Empirically Based . The criterion for evaluating the validity of a Professional Practice (v1); Psychometric Properties (v2); is whether our knowledge claims (i.e., Qualitative (v1); Quantitative theory-based predictions) are consistent with the infor- Methodologies (v1) mation we are able to obtain using our senses. Positivist research (methodological ) emphasizes micro-level experimentation in a lablike Further Readings environment that eliminates the complexity of the exter- Descartes, R. (1998). on method and meditations nal world (e.g., social, psychological, and economic on first philosophy (4th ed; Donald A. Cress, Trans.). linkages between unemployment, and crime or suicide). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett. (Original work published 1637) are then prescribed based on conclusions Hume, D. (1993). An enquiry concerning human derived via the “scientific method” (e.g., job for understanding (2nd ed.; Eric Steinberg, Ed.). Indianapolis, the unemployed, antidepressants for the suicidal, and IN: Hackett. (Original work published 1777) jail for the criminal). Psychologists now realize Neurath, O. (1973). The scientific conception of the world: that this yields results that have internal validity (i.e., the The Vienna Circle. In M. Neurath & R. Cohen (Eds.), relations observed in the experiment are valid within and . Boston: Reidel.