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Anders Ramsay

Positivism and the critique of positivism becomes an issue in the history of critical theory on two occasions: first, in the 1930s, when Horkheimer and Adorno enter into a discussion with the Vienna Circle of logical positivism, and later in the 1960s when Adorno debates the critical rationalism of Karl Popper. To critical theory the critique of positivism becomes important not only because it is an issue in the philosophy of science. Positivism is also viewed as an obstacle to a critical approach to society, limiting the analysis to what is quantitative, measurable and empirically observable. In this chapter, I will first sketch the tradition of positivism in social science and the relation of Marxism to positivism. I ...

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