Positivism: A philosophy of science which was proposed originally by August Comte in the early 19th century. Its primary purpose was to distinguish science from metaphysics and religion. Broadly, it accepts that: (a) scientific statements should be based on empirical observations and facts; (b) the (quantitative mostly) methods of the natural sciences can be extended to the study of social phenomena; (c) general, universal laws is the ultimate goal of scientific inquiry; i.e. the search for empirical regularities, for "law" and "order".