Positivismusstreit is the German word for the positivism dispute, and refers to a well known political-philosophical dispute between the critical rationalists (Karl Popper, Hans Albert) and the Frankfurt School (Theodor Adorno, Jürgen Habermas) in 1961, about the methodology of the social sciences. It grew into a broad discussion within German sociology from 1961 to 1969. The term Positivismusstreit itself is controversial, since it was the Frankfurt School proponents who accused the critical rationalists of being positivists—while the latter considered themselves as opponents of positivism. On the political level, it was a dispute between the "leftist" Frankfurt School proponents supporting revolution, and the allegedly "bourgeois" critical rationalists supporting reform as the method to be preferred to change society.
The debate began in 1961 in Tübingen/Germany at the 'Tagung der deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie' (Conference of the German Society of Sociology). The speakers at the conference were invited to discuss the differences between social and natural sciences and the status of values in the social sciences.
In 1963, the debate was heated by Jürgen Habermas in the Festschrift für Adorno. The debate became more intensely critical at the Soziologentag (conference on sociology) in Heidelberg when Herbert Marcuse joined the discussion. A spirited literary debate between Habermas and Hans Albert sprung up and positivism became the centre of the debate.
The participants also discussed the question of whether Popper's and Albert's critical rationalism had exacerbated ethical problems. The Frankfurt School believed this should be impossible, because as a theory of science critical rationalism is seen to be restricted to the field of knowledge.
The famous dispute inspired a collection of essays which were published in 1969. This book was translated into several languages, including English in 1976 (see below). This collection revived the debate and introduced these ideas to a broader audience.
Famous quotes containing the word dispute:
“The king said, -Divide the living boy in two; then give half to the one, and half to the other. But the woman whose son was alive said to the king -because compassion for her son burned within her - -Please, my lord, give her the living boy; certainly do not kill him! The other said, -It shall be neither mine nor yours; divide it. Then the king responded: -Give the first woman the living boy; do not kill him. She is his mother.”
—Bible: Hebrew, 1 Kings. 3:25-37.
Solomon resolves a dispute between two women over a child. Solomons wisdom was proven by this story.