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  • In philosophy and models of scientific inquiry, postpositivism is a metatheoretical stance that critiques and amends positivism. While positivists believe that the researcher and the researched person are independent of each other, postpositivists accept that theories, background, knowledge and values of the researcher can influence what is observed. However, like positivists, postpositivists pursue objectivity by recognizing the possible effects of biases. Postpositivists believe that human knowledge is based not on unchallengeable, rock-solid foundations, but rather upon human conjectures. As human knowledge is thus unavoidably conjectural, the assertion of these conjectures is warranted, or more specifically, justified by a set of warrants, which can be modified or withdrawn in the light of further investigation. However, postpositivism is not a form of relativism, and generally retains the idea of objective truth. Postpositivists believe that a reality exists, like positivists do, though they hold that it can be known only imperfectly and probabilistically. One of the first thinkers to criticize logical positivism was Sir Karl Popper. He advanced falsification in lieu of the logical positivist idea of verifiability. Falsificationism argues that it is impossible to verify that a belief is true, though it is possible to reject false beliefs if they are phrased in a way amenable to falsification. Thomas Kuhn's idea of paradigm shifts offers a broader critique of logical positivism, arguing that it is not simply individual theories but whole worldviews that must occasionally shift in response to evidence.

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