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Rob Kitchin

In: Approaches to Human Geography

Chapter 2: Positivistic Geographies and Spatial Science

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Positivistic Geographies and Spatial Science
Positivistic geographies and spatial science
Introducing Positivism

Positivism is a set of philosophical approaches that seeks to apply scientific principles and methods, drawn from the natural and hard sciences, to social phenomena in order to explain them. Auguste Comte (1798–1857) is widely acknowledged as the father of positivism. He argued that social research prior to the nineteenth century was speculative, emotive and romantic and as a result it lacked rigour and analytical reasoning. Unwin (1992) details that Comte used the term ‘positive’ to prioritize the actual, the certain, the exact, the useful, the organic, and the relative. In other words, he posited that it is more useful to concentrate on facts and truths – real, empirically observable phenomena and their interrelationships – ...

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