Investigating a Positivist Approach in Human Geography
‘Positivism is a philosophy that denies our knowledge of the real and affirms our ignorance of the apparent. Its longest exponent is (Auguste) Comte, its broadest (John Stuart) Mill and its thickest (Herbert) Spencer’ such was the view of renowned American journalist editor and cynic Ambrose Bierce. He felt it dramatically failed to correctly represent human social interaction. Other criticism’s of positivism is that it’s findings do not hold up in the real world, rather their findings were a direct result of what happens when positivists’ use historically misrepresented scientific methods and findings in their work.
Despite much scrutiny any criticism throughout the ages Positivism has remained at the forefront of Philosophical and Scientific thinking and research. The most generally accepted attempt to define positivism in philosophy is Kitchins’ approach in 2006 claiming ‘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’ (Kitchin, 2006, p.20). From a philosophical perspective Positivism is similar to Empiricism in that it looks to experiences of the senses in order to determine ‘true’ knowledge.
Positivism rejects metaphysical knowledge in almost all case instead promoting the belief that philosophy is restricted to problems purely of a scientific nature and those problems which include idiosyncratic elements, such as the innate thoughts of the human mind cannot logically have any philosophical purposes.
Empirical methods are very similar to that of the Positivists’ in that they have a strong reliability on objectivity however it does not share the same reliance Positivists’ have on theory. Positivists’, like Empiricists’, favour quantitative methods of data collection which leaves no room for exterior influence’s on their hypotheses. In the analytical process...