Demystifying the Influential IS Legends of Positivism : Response to Lee’s Commentary
Siponen, M., & Tsohou, A. (2020). Demystifying the Influential IS Legends of Positivism : Response to Lee’s Commentary. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 21(6), Article 1653-1659. https://doi.org/10.17705/1jais.00650
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We respond to Lee’s (forthcoming) commentary on our article “Demystifying the Influential IS Legends of Positivism” (Siponen & Tsohou [S&T], 2018). Lee offers four arguments against our analyses and conclusions in S&T (2018). First, because logical positivism (LP) has been discredited, he contends it cannot be used as a normative standard in IS. We clarify that our conclusions in S&T (2018) point to (1) the lack of justification for certain IS beliefs, and (2) a misunderstanding rather than legitimacy of LP as a philosophy of science. Second, Lee argues that IS researchers characterizing positivism never said they were following the tenets of LP. We provide evidence to show some influential papers on positivism in IS research indicated they were indeed following LP. Third, Lee offers an alternative explanation for the emergence and nature of IS positivism. His explanation has merit, and it can be accommodated in S&T’s (2018) account of positivism in IS. Unfortunately, his explanation does not account for certain problems in the IS discipline’s use of positivism. In S&T (2018), we provide a plausible explanation for these problems. Finally, we discuss the implications of S&T’s (2018) findings for the need to better understand the philosophical assumptions underlying “IS positivism.” We also counter Lee’s arguments that our conclusions in S&T (2018) should not make a difference to the future of IS research. ...
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