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In philosophy, postpositivism is, as the prefix indicates, a metatheoretical stance following positivism. One of the main supporters of postpositivism was Sir Karl R. Popper. Others mentioned in connection with postpositivism are John Dewey and Nicholas Rescher.
In the social sciences, postpositivism is used to refer to a group within political theory (mostly comprised of feminists and postmodernists) who do not believe it is possible to view life from an objective point of view. They also value language, speech, and culture when dealing with rational political decisions. It encompasses the group of political theorists who believe that theory both shapes reality and follows it. It is the opposite of sociological positivism.
The postpositivist paradigm emerged as a respose to the debunking of positivism at the end of World War II. The main tenets of postpositivism (and where it differs from positivism) are that the knower and known cannot be separated and the absence of a shared, single reality. Therefore, postpositivism attempts to reconcile the main criticisms made of positivism.
The development and advocacy of alternative paradigms, such as postpositivism, pragmatism and constructivism marked a period of great development in relativist theory. These paradigms have had significant influence in the social sciences over the past half century, broadening the spectrum of social inquiry.