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Logical Positivism

  1. Arthur C. Houts

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0511

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Houts, A. C. 2010. Logical Positivism. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Memphis

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Logical positivism is an approach to philosophy of science that was developed in the 1920s and 1930s in Vienna and Berlin (for a review, see Suppe, 1974). These philosophers pursued a common goal: to rid philosophy of the excesses of metaphysical idealism by clarifying philosophical language. This project called for strict logical and empirical criteria for assigning meaning to terms and truth value to propositions. The logical criteria were those of deductive logic, and the empirical criteria were appropriated from a misreading of Wittgenstein. Members of the Vienna Circle mistook Wittgenstein's quite imprecise claims about “atomic facts” as implying that science contained a language of facts independent from theoretical assumptions. Bloor (1983) has provided a corrective reading of Wittgenstein.


  • operationism;
  • empiricism;
  • positivism;
  • behaviorism