Research Paper On Positivism

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Positivism essay
At the end of Nick Heather’s (1976) chapter on ‘Positivism and psychology’ he asks three questions about positivism. In the following essay I am going to explore positivism as well as the attraction of positivism. I will also look at why human beings are being described for scientific purposes as if they were things as well as the educational implications of this. Lastly I will look at the benefits of positivism.
Heather(1976, p12) states that “positivism is a position in epistemology.” Positivism is based on empiricism which means that all knowledge or ideas are based on sense experience(Phillips, 2000). There are two types of positivism. The first type is classical positivism which was developed by philosopher Auguste
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According to Skinner(1968) human beings would be considered as things in scientific purposes because he states that humans will act the way you want them to no matter what. Heather(1976) looks at humans as being mere machines, and ignores the aspects that essentially makes them human such as their emotions and cognitive processes. This can be seen in his theory of behaviourism which involves positive and negative reinforcement in which he believed that reinforcement was “necessary to maintain the behaviour” (Skinner, 1968, p10). In classrooms today teachers use positive and negative reinforcements to correct children’s behaviour. An example could be that if a teacher is trying to encourage a child to work faster she may offer the child a sweet if he or she finishes their work before break. Skinner(1968) believed that this allowed for teachers and society to have control. An example of these implications as they were applied to the education system is Outcomes Based Education (OBE). OBE was a curriculum that focused mainly on the behaviour of the learners. The main principal of OBE was the outcomes of the learners and that was all that was considered. This would be seen in children abilities; if you got the correct behaviour from the child then you have achieved the outcome. A critique of this is that OBE didn’t consider the children and…show more content…
Positivists believed in the unity of the sciences which includes the natural sciences and the social science(Hahn, Carnap & Neurath, 2001). This unity of science involved the notion that everything on earth -including people- could be empirically studied (Hahn et al, 2001). I reiterate that positivism benefits all those who want to take control of those around them. As mentioned before reinforcement was seen as a way of controlling and any person who wanted control could use reinforcement as a method (Skinner, 1968). Reinforcement also allowed you to predict certain behaviours (Skinner, 1968). An example of this could be seen by the elite group for example teachers. It allowed teachers to be in control and allows teachers to predict that if you use reinforcement in your classroom then you are guaranteed to get the correct behaviour you want(Skinner, 1968). A teacher may give a child a sweet for listening in class, which can set an example to the rest of the children as to how they should be behaving as
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