Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Positivism' keyword pg.1 of 2
27 MARCH 2015

Is Universal Design a Critical Theory?

"Universal design is a term that was first used in the United States by Ron Mace (1985) although forms of it were quite prevalent in Europe long before. For the purpose of this chapter Universal Design is defined as 'the design of all products and environments to be usable by people of all ages and abilities to the greatest extent possible (Story, 2001, p.10.3). Universal design in recent years has assumed growing importance as a new paradigm that aims at a holistic approach ranging in scale from product design (Balaram, 2001) to architecture (Mace, 1985), and urban design (Steinfield, 2001) on one hand and systems of media (Goldberg, 2001) and information technology (Brewer, 2001) on the other.

Given the popularity, Universal design still remains largely atheoretical i..e. the researchers of Universal design do not explicitly affiliate themselves to any form of theoretical paradigm. One of the reason is perhaps because Universal design is a melting point between cross paradigms. By paradigms I mean basic orientations to theory and research (Newman, 1997, p.62). In this sense Universal design can come under functionalist paradigm (because it caters to utility), pragmatic (because it is instrumental in nature), positivistic (because it strives for universal principles), normative (because it prescribes certain rules) and critical theorist paradigms (because it gives voice to the oppressed).

Conventionally the word universal is synonymous to general and refers to a set of principles that are stable, timeless and value free. In this sense universal design could be interpreted as deriving from a positivist paradigm. However, given its history and perspective, and with the universal design examples I provide, I will demonstrate several instances where the universals do change, are time bound and value laden. In this sense I argue that Universal design follows a critical theory paradigm in its conception and knowledge generation. By conception I mean how universal design came into being as a body of concepts and by knowledge generation I mean how the concepts pervade and are shared by the community of researchers."

(Newton D'Souza, 2004)

D’souza, N.: 2004, Chapter 1: "Is Universal Design a Critical Theory?" Keates, S., Clarkson, J., Langdon, P., Robinson, P. (eds.) Designing a more Inclusive World. Springer - Verlog, pp: 3-10, 5th University of Cambridge, UK.


2004 • all abilities • atheoretical • basic orientations to theory and research • critical theory • cross paradigms • defined rules • designing for usability • Edward Steinfeld • functional purpose • functional utility • functionalist paradigmholistic approachinclusive design • instrumental in nature • Judy Brewer • Larry Goldberg • Molly Story • Newton DSouza • normativepositivism • positivist paradigm • positivistic • pragmatic considerationsproduct design • Ron Mace • Singanapalli Balaram • theoretical context • theoretical paradigm • universal accessuniversal designuniversal principlesusable


Simon Perkins
03 MARCH 2015

Chapter 2: Doing Research in the Real World by David Gray



2009action research • analytical surveys • constructivismcritical enquiry • David Gray • deductive reasoning • descriptive studies • epistemological perspectives • epistemologyethnography • exploratory studies • feminismhermeneutics • heuristic enquiry • inductive and deductive reasoning • inductive reasoning • interpretive studies • interpretivismJohn DeweymethodologyMichael Crottymultiple methods • naturalistic enquiry • objectivism • ontological perspectives • ontology • phenomenological research • phenomenologypositivismpostmodernismpragmatismrealismresearch approachesresearch methodologiesresearch methodologyresearch methods • research perspectives • research strategiessubjectivismsymbolic interactionismtheoretical perspectives


Liam Birtles
12 MAY 2013

Can Histories Be True? Narrativism, Positivism, and the MetaphoricalTurn

"Narrativism, as represented by Hayden White and Frank Ankersmit, can fruitfully be analyzed as an inversion of two brands of positivism. First, narrativist epistemology can be regarded as an inversion of empiricism. Its thesis that narratives function as metaphors which do not possess a cognitive content is built on an empiricist, 'picture view' of knowledge. Moreover, all the non–cognitive aspects attributed as such are dependent on this picture theory of knowledge and a picture theory of representation. Most of the epistemological characteristics that White and Ankersmit attribute to historical narratives therefore share the problems of this picture theory.

The article's second thesis is that the theories of narrative explanation can also fruitfully be analyzed as inversions of positivist covering–law theory. Ankersmit's brand of narrativism is the most radical in this respect because it posits an opposition between narrative and causal modes of comprehension while simultaneously eliminating causality from narrativist historical understanding. White's brand of narrativism is more of a hybrid than is Ankersmit's as far as its theory of explanation is concerned; nevertheless, it can also be fruitfully interpreted as an inversion of covering–law theory, replacing it by an indefinite multitude of explanatory strategies.

Most of the striking characteristics of both White's and Ankersmit's narrativism pre–suppose positivism in these two senses, especially their claim that historical narratives have a metaphorical structure and therefore no truth–value. These claims are had to reconcile with the factual characteristics of debates by historians; this problem can be tracked down to the absence in 'metaphorical' narrativism of a conceptual connection between historical narratives and historical research."

(Chris Lorenz, 1998, Wiley–Blackwell)

Lorenz, C. (1998). "Can Histories Be True? Narrativism, Positivism, and the "MetaphoricalTurn"." History and Theory 37(3): 309–329.


causal modes of comprehensioncausality • cognitive content • conceptual connection • empiricism • emplotment • explanatory strategy • factual characteristics • Frank Ankersmit • Hayden White • historical chronicles • historical narrative • historical narrativeshistorical researchhistorical understandinghistoriesknowledge • metahistory • metanarrativemetaphormetaphoric reference • metaphorical narrativism • metaphorical representation • metaphorical structure • metaphorical turn • narrative explanation • narratives • narrativism • narrativist epistemology • picture theory • picture view of knowledge • positivismrepresentation • storied ways of communicating • storied ways of knowing • truth claims • truth-value


Simon Perkins
12 JUNE 2011

Ayn Rand: objective reality

"In this engaging 1959 interview, her first on television, Ayn Rand capsulizes her philosophy for CBS's Mike Wallace. The discussion ranges from the nature of morality to the economic and historical distortions disseminated about the 'robber barons.' She also comments on her relationship with Frank O'Connor, provides some autobiographical information and gives her perspective on the future of America."

(Uploaded by hastelculo on 8 Jan 2008)



Simon Perkins
12 MARCH 2011

Scientists revise their criteria of rationality as they enter new domains

"The conventional model of science, technology and society locates sources of violence in politics and ethics, that is, in the application of science and technology, not in scientific knowledge itself.

The fact–value dichotomy is a creation of modern, reductionist science which, while being an epistemic response to a particular set of values, claims to be independent of values. According to the received view, modern science is the discovery of the properties of nature in accordance with a 'scientific method' which generates 'objective', 'neutral', 'universal' knowledge. This view of modern science as a description of reality as it is, unprejudiced by value, can be rejected on at least four grounds.

All knowledge, including modern scientific knowledge, is built through the use of a plurality of methodologies. As Feyerabend observes:

There is no 'scientific method'; there is no single procedure, or set of rules that underlines every piece of research and guarantees that it is 'scientific' and, therefore, trustworthy. The idea of a universal and stable method that is an unchanging measure of adequacy and even the idea of a universal and stable rationality is as unrealistic as the idea of a universal and stable measuring instrument that measures any magnitude, no matter what the circumstances. Scientists revise their standards, their procedures, their criteria of rationality as they move along and perhaps entirely replace their theories and their instruments as they move along and enter new domains of research (Feyerband, 1978, p. 98).

The view that science is just a discovery of facts about nature does not get support from philosophy either. If scientific knowledge is assumed to give true, factual knowledge of 'reality as it is', then we would have to 'conclude that Newtonian theory was true until around 1900, after which it suddenly became false, while relativity and quantum theories became the truth' (Bohm, 1981, p. 4)."

(Vandana Shiva, 1990)

1). Shiva, V. (1990). 'Reductionist science as epistemological violence'. 'Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity'. A. Nandy, Oxford University Press: 314.

Paul Feyerabend, Science in a Free Society (London: New Left Books, 1978).

David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981).


analytical thinkingCartesiancultural valuesdescription of realitydiscoursediscoverydiscursive fieldepistemologyethicsfactual knowledgehierarchy of legitimacyIsaac Newtonknowledge • logical-analytical • logical-analytical paradigmmeasuring instrument • model of science • Modernmodern science • modern scientific knowledge • myth of neutralityobjectiveobjective reality • Paul Feyerband • plurality of methodologies • positivismproperties of naturerationalityreductionism • reductionist science • researchresearch methodsciencescientific knowledgescientific method • scientific options • sociology • stable knowledge • stable rationality • theorytraditiontrust • trustworthy • truthuniversal • universal knowledge • universal methoduniversal rationalityVandana Shiva


Simon Perkins

to Folksonomy

Can't access your account?

New to Folksonomy?

Sign-Up or learn more.