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Positivism is the name of a philosophical doctrine created in France by Auguste Comte. As a term of research in human sciences, positivism has come to be closely associated with the idea of fact-based investigation, being a pejorative variation of empiricism. This entry discusses the various definitions and applications of positivism.

Definitions

When positivism as a term is used in the history of historiography, it tends to refer to the work of scholars in the Third Republic in France; positivistic historians in this context means scholars who produced historical research that followed a rigorous method of systematic investigation of sources (what historians of the Annales school pejoratively called histoire historisante). In social sciences, positivism has become a synonym for a rejection of metaphysics and a heightened concern ...

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