Positivist Empiricism versus Alternatives to the Objectivist Illusion

  • Edward E. Sampson
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


Many works have been written describing the history of positivism, the challenges of traditional positivism, its rebuttal, and so forth: for example, Adorno, Albert, Dahrendorf, Habermas, Pilot, and Popper (1976), Husserl (1965), Giorgi (1976), and Harre and Secord (1972), to name only a few in this vast literature. So many treatises have been forthcoming over the years that it is somewhat surprising to see the central tenets of positivism still prevailing in the discipline. I believe that its perseverance is less a testimony either to the absence of any significant challenges or its great success as such than it is a matter of its societal suitability. It will not serve my present purposes, however, to dredge up this material and restate the details of the debates. Rather, let me simply address myself to what may be considered to be two central tenets of the positivist—empiricist approach to knowledge in psychology and the other human sciences: (1) the privileging of immediate experience and (2) the search for universal laws.


Central Tenet Billiard Ball Humean Account Traditional Positivism Intersubjective Agreement 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward E. Sampson
    • 1
  1. 1.Wright InstituteBerkeleyUSA

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