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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: July 2011

6 - Social science from the French Revolution to positivism

from I - Political thought after the French Revolution
This chapter examines some key debates about the relationship of social science to political argument in France and England from the French Revolution, when the term science sociale became current, to the 1880s, when positivism had come to prevail on both sides of the Channel. It schematically suggests the responses made to early French claims for political economy among three groups in post-revolutionary France: the Doctrinaire liberals of the Restoration and July Monarchy; Catholic reformers particularly concerned with the costs of industrialisation and with issues such as welfare and prison reform; and, young radicals of the re-emerging left opposition. The chapter then focuses on Auguste Comte and the place of positivism in the intellectual terrain of nineteenth-century England and France. Comte developed the outlines of his positive philosophy as a young man during a period of close collaboration with Saint-Simon.
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The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Political Thought
  • Online ISBN: 9780511973581
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