Notes on: Adorno, T ., Dahrendorf, R., Pilot, H., Albert, H., Habermas, J. , and Popper, K (1976) The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology, London, Heinemann

NB. These are my notes reflecting my interests, and, as always, it is best to go back and have a look for yourselves. Apart from the usual problems, I took notes from this text quite a long time ago and I was not as scholarly as I should have been. I hope I have accurately separated out my paraphrases of what the various authors are saying and my own commentary (which is in square brackets). I list the files in the order in which the chapters appear in the book.

If it helps, here are my own brief thoughts on 'positivism' first.

And here are some brief thoughts on the notion of 'totality'

Frisby D Introduction to the English Edition  (Traces some of the implications and follow-ups, especially for Habermas. Points out the later issues in the debates between Popper and Kuhn et al. See also his article on the Dispute)

Adorno T Introduction (Very long piece [my notes are much briefer and no doubt more vulgar] , and rather variable. Makes most of the arguments here in more depth than they have in the specific contributions which follow. A partisan introduction though. Worth reading in conjunction with his Intro to Negative Dialectics)

Adorno T Sociology and Empirical Research (Mostly focuses on apparent dilemmas for empirical sociology -- fact/value, individual/society/theory/practice etc -- and tries to trace these, in the classic marxist sense, to an underlying contradictory social reality or 'totality')

Popper K The Logic of the Social Sciences (Originally presented in the format of 27 Theses, this is the piece that sparked this specific Dispute. I haven't followed the 27 theses format but offered a more free-flowing summary. A brief and quite systematic overview of the key bits of his approach -- science as a series of conjectures and refutations, risk and falsifiablility as demarcating science from pseudo-science, correspondence theory of truth, the role of the scientific community in an open society)

Adorno T On the Logic of the Social Sciences (Brief notes on this reply to Popper, making the by-now-usual points about how social totalities are complex unitites, and understanding them more than just a formal method of refutation. Denying this is ideology -- using inadequate methods in the service of social power)

Dahrendorf R Remarks on the Discussion (Some interesting quotes from Adorno and Popper at the early conference which provide the core for this book. A working sociologist's complaint, too, that neither hero really addressed the actual concerns of sociologists)

Habermas J  The Analytical Theory of Science and Dialectic -- a Postscript to the Popper/Adorno Controversy (Lots of support for and re-statement of  Adorno, organised into various issues like theory/practice or value-freedom. A demonstration of how critical theory can transcend the limits of postivism/critical rationalism --that is preserve its insights but add other things to it. Clear hints of the stuff on 'human interests'. An aside on Weber's notion of a social science).

Albert H The Myth of Total Reason (A robust defence of critical rationalism against the claims of dialectical notions of totality. A demand for clarity and specificity from critical theorists instead of 'metaphors')

Habermas J A Positivistivally-Bisected Rationalism (Habermas on Albert and Popper, reasserting the claim that positivism is 'restricted'. Critical rationalism is also restricted and needs to discuss the normative and moral issues at the heart of its procedures in a full theory of argumentation [pursued in more depth in his Theory of Communicative Action Vol 1]. The gains made by postivism can be trasnscended in dialectic)

Albert H Behind Positivism's Back? (A detailed reply to Habermas's piece as above. Albert detects some shifting ground in Habermas's position -- but the arguments tend to repeat the points made in his first contribution?)

Pilot H Jurgen Habermas's Enpirically Falsifiable Philosophy of History (An occasionally obscure but pretty acute discussion of Habermas's work. As the title implies, Pilot is going to argue that Habermas needs some empirical analysis in order to ground his interest in emacipation from social constraint, but that in doing so he is in contradiction with the 'philosophical' parts of the project that want to critique empirical analysis.)

Albert H A Short Surprised Postscript to a Long Introduction  (It is Adorno's Introduction, of course. In this very brief section, Albert accuses him of using unnecessarily complex language and ignoring the approaches and criticisms of actual critical rationalism)

Popper K Reason or Revolution (I have only brief notes on this short piece. It is quite a spiky rejection of Adorno and Habermas on the grounds that their pompous language conceals banalities and that Popper has been misunderstood -- further, his invitation to have a detailed critical argument has been avoided)