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Positivism is a social, cultural, and philosophical movement that began in the second half of the 19th century in Europe. In slightly different guises (logical positivism and logical empiricism), it dominated philosophy through the mid-20th century. For the past 50 years, it has been criticized from many sides, and especially it has been criticized and shunned in the field of education and particularly in educational research, where (as has often been noted) it is common to use the word as a general term of abuse, as a label for any position a commentator opposes. However, accounts of its life are oft mistaken, and announcements of its death are premature. This entry presents a brief account of positivism from its origins in the philosophy of the ...

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