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Encyclopedia > Positive (social sciences)

In the humanities and social sciences, the term positive is used in a number of ways.


One usage refers to analysis or theories which only attempt to describe how things are, as opposed to how they should be. In this sense, the opposite of positive is normative. An example would be positive, as opposed to normative, economic analysis. Positive statements are also often referred to as descriptive statements.


The term positive lies at the heart of one of the major epistemological debates in the humanities and social sciences. Positivists (in the humanities and social sciences) on the one hand, advocate a 'value-free' approach to the study of humanity that shares much in common with methods employed in the natural sciences. Positivists seek only to make objective descriptions of humanity and society without making normative judgements. In contrast non-positivists reject the notion that the methods of the natural sciences are adequate in explaining and describing humanity and society - this is primarily because of the 'meanings' that humans attach to their actions. They believe that it is not possible to be completely value-free in their study, as a person cannot stand totally removed from their place within space and history. Humanistic Sociology is an example of a non-positive approach to social science.


Another sense of the word positive is used to describe things which are defined by construction, as opposed to things which are defined "negatively", by the absence of something else. Examples are positive and negative rights, or positive and negative liberty.


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
social science: Definition and Much More from Answers.com (5403 words)
Political science is an academic and research discipline that deals with the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior.
Political science, as one of the social sciences, uses methods and techniques that relate to the kinds of inquiries sought: primary sources such as historical documents and official records, secondary sources such as scholarly journal articles, survey research, statistical analysis, case studies, and model building.
The social sciences are sometimes criticized as being less scientific than the natural sciences, in that they are seen as being less rigorous or empirical in their methods.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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