Positivism and Its Criticisms

To understand positivism and its criticisms directed at it, we first need to understand the relationship between positivism and empiricism.

Empiricism is the philosophical view that suggests that true and general knowledge can be gained through experiments created through sensations. According to the empiricist understanding, there is no innate information brought into the human mind. Empiricism first says that the human mind is a blank page. The only way to get informed is through senses and experiences. The testability obtained through observation and experimentation is very important. Positivism emerged as a result of old philosophical movements' failure to explain new scientific developments. Positivism, which arises with the claim of being a non-metaphysical thought, takes into account only experimental science acting with the positivist methodology. Positivism also emerged from empiricism. According to this view, scientific knowledge is the single most real form of knowledge. At the same time, positivists defend the naturalism methodology. Positivism is also against speculative, controversial, and superstitious ideas, as it is based on modern science. According to the positivist approach, the aim of social science is to explain the causal relationships between the social phenomena independent of people in order to reveal the general laws, and techniques such as experiment and observation in natural sciences should be used to achieve this goal. Apart from the arguments of these two views, there are some thoughts that oppose these arguments.

Since positivism is directly related to empiricism, it is also associated with criticisms of empiricism. The first problem concerns the subject of concepts related to the discussion of the source of knowledge with an empirical view. Empiricists reject innate knowledge. According to them, the source of information is experiences. On the other hand, in the criticism of this view, we see that when the individual experiences something, he or she does it in a certain way. The second challenge concerns scientific laws, testability, and interpretation. Testability is crucial for the empirical viewer. Also, scientific laws for empiricists are summaries of observations, merely empirical generalizations. However, different perspectives can interpret the evidence differently, and when we consider the events from another perspective, testability becomes quite complex. Another problem of the empirical view is the state of theoretical beings in science. The unobservable state of the theories is a problem for empirics. Reasoning and creativity in the invention of theories is another difficult problem in terms of empirical view. Modern empiricists focus on the context of justification rather than the invention of theories.

 Pozitivim includes the above problems in connection with empiricism, but it also has some unique criticism. The positivist thinker Auguste Comte distinguished three theological, metaphysical, and scientific ways of thinking. These corresponded to the social development law, respectively. The theological modes of thought searched for the spiritual reasons, the metaphysical sought for the abstract causes, and the scientists investigated the observable facts. A criticism of positivism draws attention to the differences between these three. He also says that scientific knowledge cannot exist alone in all areas of life. Different types are needed, such as practical information. Therefore, a complete superiority of scientific knowledge cannot be defended. According to an argument of positivism called naturalism, nature has a functioning order according to objective laws. Observational and experimental sciences, thanks to these laws, can reach solid, precise information in every field related to nature. The first criticism of this argument says that there could be a social science that cannot be based on the empiricist account of the science. The second criticism tells the differences between the subject of natural science and social science. According to this, natural life can be studied by observation and experimentation, but human life or culture cannot be studied by the same methods.

Another critique of positivism says that science is overrated. In this view, science has been regarded as the greatest of human activity. However, a different approach to science could easily bring it down from the throne it was founded on. Those who favor a different approach to Science argue that science, for example, cannot solve the problems of individuals and society and that although it brings some ease to life, it has become an activity that prepares for the destruction of humanity. If some of the positivists "things are not yet known, this is because not enough progress has been made in science; when the development of science is complete, all questions can be answered" does not reflect the reality; because science only covers information acquired in a certain area, under certain conditions and by certain methods. Positivists argue that science is for science. This understanding does not fit its functioning either; because the scientific knowledge obtained must be brought to life and used for the benefit of humanity and nature. Without this criterion, science can turn into a monster with no heart. Indeed, many thinkers have criticized the use of Science against humanity and nature.

Karl R Popper is a thinker who critiques the fundamental theses of logical positivists. This understanding of science is basically based on the following assumptions.

1. The mind is empty before the relationship with the object.

2. The human mind perceives objects objectively.

3. Particular propositions expressing the properties of the observed cases and the relations between the cases in question can be generalized by induction.

4. Generalizations, which can be compared and verified again with the world of fact under the supervision of the senses, form the skeleton of science by following a cumulative process.

All of the assumptions of the positivist understanding of Science (above) are criticized by Karl Popper. First, he says that there can be no observations independent of theory because all observations are formed within a theoretical structure that makes them meaningful. In another criticism, he considers that the generalization of particular information in response to the third article given above is not a logical certainty to obtain general information. Also, It argues that the criterion of science, contrary to what is thought, is not verifiability, but inaccuracy and that scientific knowledge advances not by the accumulation of truths but by the weeding of wrongs.