Three Positivist Disputes in the 1960s

  • Carl-Göran Heidegren Department of Sociology, Lund University, Sweden

Abstract

The West German positivist dispute in the 1960s is well known and thoroughly studied. At about the same time positivist disputes also took place in two Scandinavian countries: one in Norway and one in Sweden. What did the front lines in the debate look like in the three countries? What was the outcome of the different disputes? The main focus in the article is on the Swedish case, but some comparative perspectives relating to the three disputes will also be presented. The Swedish positivist dispute originated with Gerard Radnitzky’s doctoral dissertation in theory of science, defended at the University of Gothenburg in May 1968, Contemporary Schools of Metascience (2 volumes). The dissertation caused a stir of controversy. It meant a challenge to the Swedish philsophical establishment because it leaned heavily on continental philosophers such as Karl-Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas, who at the time were more or less unknown in Sweden. The controversy was continuated in the following years, most notably in the leftist journal Häften för kritiska studier (Notebooks for Critical Studies).

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Published
2018-09-26