Positivism in Criminological Thought : A Study in the History and Use of Ideas

Positivism in Criminological Thought : A Study in the History and Use of Ideas

Positivism in Criminological Thought : A Study in the History and Use of Ideas

Positivism in Criminological Thought : A Study in the History and Use of Ideas

Excerpt

The philosophy of positivism has exerted great influence in twentieth century thought. Indeed, it has been argued that positivism has been so influential that human freedom lies in the balance of a successful opposition to it.

If emancipation is to remain a project for humanity…it is
essential, Habermas argues, to counter the influence of
'scientism' in philosophy and other spheres of thought.
'Scientism means…that we no longer understand science as
one form of possible knowledge, but rather identify
knowledge with science.' Habermas's critique of scientism
focuses on its relation to positivism, since positivism provides
scientism's most sophisticated defense (Held 1980: 296).

The question is what makes the theories that result from the philosophy of positivism so attractive to scholars, politicians, and the public? That is, what is it about positivism that causes it to be developed in lieu of competing theories? These questions are best answered with the methodologies employed in the field of intellectual history. Since,

nowhere else in the realm of culture is the interdependence in
the shifts of meaning and emphasis so clearly evident and . . .

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