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Positivism is the name for the scientific study of the social world. Its goal is to formulate abstract and universal laws on the operative dynamics of the social universe. A law is a statement about relationships among forces in the universe. In positivism, laws are to be tested against collected data systematically. Auguste Comte, who saw Newton's law of gravity as the exemplarβ€”advocated positivism as a means to legitimate the new discipline of sociology. Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim executed this advocacy in formulating laws that were assessed by data. Positivism however, has, never gone unchallenged, particularly in sociology and anthropology; and as a consequence, it has been subject to intense epistemological debate. The debate was, for much of the first half of the twentieth century, framed by the Vienna Circle, a group of intellectuals in Vienna who debated the nature of thought and logic on the one side, and their relations to empirical data on the other. This debate continues in many different guises at the beginning of the twenty-first century.