Is post-positivism simply a “less positive” sort of positivism, or is the term used to describe something more “post-modern”. I seem to see the word used in different ways. The first being sorta like science with an eye to anti-foundationalism and the second as a synonym for post-modernism and/or analytical tools like narrative discourse and deconstruction.

I have heard the term used as an adjustment to the overly positivist tendencies in social sciences.

Logical positivism tried to divide language into two categories – empirical and non-empirical. Since empiricism is rooted in what one can sense, non-empirical statements, meaning statements that could not be empirically verified, were categorized as “non-sense” – certainly a playful, cagey value judgment in a realm where value judgments were not permitted.

So, for social sciences to count as science, they had to show they were positivist, empirical in their foundations. This tendency, clearly, impoverishes imaginative, theoretical, and morally analytical ways of thinking.

Another kind of positivism is, of course, legal positivism, but I have not heard the term used as a critique of that legal theory.

I thought Positivism was simply that inquiry which excluded theological and metaphysical concerns. Post-Positivism would then be inquiry that was no longer (as opposed to not yet) constrained by thsoe limits.

mmm. no, it’s a technical term that has a specific meaning. i think the first reply post has it right. it’s just that i’ve seen it used loosely in some places. the definition of positivism that you give is one that i’ve seen in basic science books, which tend to oversimply the matter by making positivism seem like that which is not superstition.

I got something really, really shiny for my birthday.

This site at least attempts to define post-positivism.

Not the most helpful pages, and I may have quoted too much, but it’s a rather vague webpage when it comes to pinning things down.

The author essentially states that post-positivism rejects the idea of absolute observation and unbiased observers. It stresses the notion of finding the reality of the situation by triangulation, or having many eyes and many different biases working in concert to equal each other out. Which, really, is fairly obvious: All serious engineers know the limitations of their tools and when to make multiple measurements of the same thing.

And no, this has nothing to do with the Uncertainty principle discovered by Werner Heisenberg. That’s a well-defined concept in physics, not philosophy.