Many scientists now advocate the use of the deductive method. Although the logic of the deductive method is similar to positivism in many respects, the differences are significant. Karl Popper supports this alternative approach in natural sciences and sociology in his book “The Logic of Scientific Discovery” (1959).
- The deductive method reverses the process of induction. It starts with a theory and proof of evidence rather than developing a theory by examining data. According to Popper, the origin of scientific theories is irrelevant.
- As positivists suggest, it does not have to come from previous observations and analysis of data. The difference between Popper and the positivist is that he denies that it is possible to produce laws that are necessarily always applicable.
- He argued that logically, no matter how many times a theory appears to be correct, because predictions made based on the theory come true, it is always possible that some future data will prove that the theory is incorrect or “falsified.”
- From this point of view, neither the natural sciences nor the laws of human behavior necessarily have the permanence that positivists endow them. Popper believes that it is the responsibility of scientists to remain objective and test their theories as rigorously as possible.
- Therefore, once they have proposed hypotheses and made predictions, they must constantly look for evidence to refute or falsify their theories. Secondly, few people think that positivism is a fundamental misunderstanding of social reality and it is non-historical, non-political, and an improper application of theoretical concepts.
- Positivism is limited to phenomena that can be limited to the analysis and verifiable fragments of reality, i.e., it is impossible to study the free, irrational, and various unpredictable behaviors that are common in individual human behavior.
- Emphasize universalism: The universal laws developed by positivists are rarely found to be universal in reality.
- Positivism ignores the role of “observers” in the formation of social reality, and therefore does not consider the historical and social conditions that affect social representation.
- Interpretative science shows that human imagination and interpretation are an important part of social processes, and there is neither record nor quantitative record.
This vision is also understood as non-positivism. Some argue that even if positivism is correct, it is dangerous. Science aims to understand causality to control it. If this succeeds in sociology, those with knowledge can control the ignorant, which may lead to social engineering. This kind of criticism is common among postmodernists like Derrida. Today, many sociologists fall between positivism and anti-positivism and believe that human behavior is complicated.