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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Hugh V. McLachlan

Relativism, at least in some of its forms, is antithetical to sociology as traditionally practiced and conceived. (See, for instance, Benton and Crabb, 2001, pp.50‐74 and…

Abstract

Relativism, at least in some of its forms, is antithetical to sociology as traditionally practiced and conceived. (See, for instance, Benton and Crabb, 2001, pp.50‐74 and 93‐1006; Collins 1996a; Mann, 1998; Murphy, 1997; and Taylor‐Gooby, 1994). Hence, sociologists should consider abandoning traditional sociology or rejecting relativism. An example of the sort of relativism I have in mind is the philosophical theory that the truth and falsity of propositions is relative to the social context of their promulgation. Such epistemological relativism is expressed by Newton‐Smith when he says: “The central relativist idea is that what is true for one tribe, social group or age might not be true for an other tribe, social group or age” (Newton‐Smith, 1982, p.107).

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 25 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 April 1991

Mark A. Lutz

Introduction Relativism of all shades and kinds is in fashion. For some decades, it has been trying to enter the very bastion of the academic heartland by questioning the…

Abstract

Introduction Relativism of all shades and kinds is in fashion. For some decades, it has been trying to enter the very bastion of the academic heartland by questioning the prevailing cognitive realism in the philosophy of science (Kuhn, Feyerabend). More recently a somewhat different and stronger version of relativism has made some extraordinary advances in literary criticism (the movement of “deconstruction”) and spawned some controversy in the field of law (critical legal studies). The same tendencies have now emerged in architecture (Jencks). More alarmingly, perhaps, in the social sciences we observe a brand new interest in so‐ called “post‐modern” perspectives: post‐modern ethnography in anthropology (Tylor), new voices in sociology (Lash and Urri), and, of course, also the novel ideas representing economics as discourse with a distinctly post‐modern flavor (Amariglio; Rossetti; Milberg; Ruccio).

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Humanomics, vol. 7 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Article
Publication date: 28 March 2008

Henk Eijkman

This paper aims to initiate a timely discussion about the epistemological advantages of Web 2.0 as a non‐foundational network‐centric learning space in higher education.

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to initiate a timely discussion about the epistemological advantages of Web 2.0 as a non‐foundational network‐centric learning space in higher education.

Design/methodology/approach

A philosophical analysis of the underpinning design principles of Web 2.0 social media and of conventional “foundational” and emergent “non‐foundational” learning and which uses Wikipedia as a case study.

Findings

For academics in higher education to take a more informed approach to the use of Web 2.0 in formal learning settings and begin to consider integrating Web 2.0's architecture of participation with a non‐foundational architecture of learning, focused on acculturation into networks of practice.

Practical implications

The paper argues that the continuing dominance and therefore likely application of conventional old paradigm foundational learning theory will work against the grain of, if not undermine, the powerful affordances Web 2.0 social media provides for learning focused on social interaction and collaborative knowledge construction. The paper puts the case for non‐foundational learning and draws attention to the importance of aligning Web 2.0's architecture of participation with a non‐foundational architecture of acculturation as the latter is better epistemologically placed to more fully realise the potential of Web 2.0 to position students on trajectories of acculturation into their new networks of practice.

Originality/value

This paper exposes the epistemological dilemma Web 2.0's participatory culture poses for academics wedded to conventional ideas about the nature of knowledge and learning as is, for instance, clearly evidenced by their sceptical disposition towards or outright rejection of, Wikipedia.

Details

Campus-Wide Information Systems, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1065-0741

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 11 September 2012

Marie-France Daniel, Mathieu Gagnon and Jean-Charles Pettier

The questions at the origin of this chapter are: Are children aged 5 years able to become involved in a critical thinking process, which implies a certain degree of…

Abstract

The questions at the origin of this chapter are: Are children aged 5 years able to become involved in a critical thinking process, which implies a certain degree of abstraction and decentering? To what extent can an approach centered on philosophical dialogue among peers contribute to this development? The chapter describes a study of the exchanges in two groups of children aged 5 years. One group had experience with the philosophical dialogue tool, the Philosophy for Children approach, while the other group had no such experience. The analysis grid was the operationalized model of the developmental process of dialogical critical thinking, as revisited by Daniel and Gagnon, which includes four thinking modes (logical, creative, responsible, and metacognitive) and six epistemological perspectives (egocentricity, post-egocentricity, pre-relativism, relativism, post-relativism, intersubjectivity). Results of the analysis showed that 65% of the experimental group's interventions were situated in relativistic perspectives and 35% in egocentric perspectives, whereas 60% of the control group's interventions were situated in egocentric perspectives and 40% in relativistic perspectives.

Details

Early Education in a Global Context
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-074-1

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Article
Publication date: 9 August 2011

Ron Eglash

The paper aims to describe the inadequate nature of both “mono‐objectivist” approaches, which deny any role of social influence in science, and relativist social…

511

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to describe the inadequate nature of both “mono‐objectivist” approaches, which deny any role of social influence in science, and relativist social constructions, which fail to distinguish between science and pseudoscience. It outlines an alternative conceptual framework that allows for the possibility of social construction of science, while preventing epistemological relativism.

Design/methodology/approach

The study utilizes the cybernetic concept of recursion to show how science can bend back on itself, investigating its own foundations, without undermining its ability to improve our empirical understanding of the world. The paper makes use of several case studies to define specific mechanisms that show how the process of knowledge production in science can steer a course between reduction to a single “right answer,” and fragmentation into subjective interpretations.

Findings

The paper concludes by showing how the cybernetic recursion of multiple objectivity can also be applied to cybernetics itself. In particular, it suggests that such recursive investigations allow us to reconsider the Law of Requisite Variety, and envision an alternative form that can better account for the complexity that arises in self‐generating systems.

Research limitations/implications

The research is unlikely to be of use to scientists looking for epistemological proof of singular right answers, or social constructivists looking for proof of epistemological relativism.

Practical implications

The paper suggests that researchers in constructivism need not limit their work for fear that it will lead to relativist conclusions.

Originality/value

This paper fulfils an identified need to offer an alternative to current developments in the field of science and technology studies.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 40 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 18 August 2014

Shelby Hunt

The purpose of this article is to chronicle the publication events in the 1980s and 1990s that framed the development of the series of controversies in marketing that are…

1403

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to chronicle the publication events in the 1980s and 1990s that framed the development of the series of controversies in marketing that are known as the “philosophy debates”.

Design/methodology/approach

The article uses a participant’s retrospective approach.

Findings

The article finds that seven publication events are key to understanding marketing’s philosophy debates. The seven are the publication of the “little green book” by Grid, Inc. in 1976; the philosophy of science panel discussion held at the Winter American Marketing Association Educators’ Conference in 1982; the special issue of the Journal of Marketing on marketing theory in 1983; three articles on the “critical relativist perspective” by the Journal of Consumer Research in 1986 and 1988; the “blue book” by South-Western in 1991; a trilogy of articles on truth, positivism and objectivity in the Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Consumer Research in 1990-1993; and an article on “rethinking marketing” in the European Journal of Marketing in 1994.

Originality/value

Chronicling the key publication events enables readers to understand what the debates were about and provides readers a starting point for further investigating the issues in the debates.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1990

Michael Reed

The intellectual trajectory of a central figure incontemporary organisation theory – GarethMorgan – is identified and assessed through adetailed analysis of his published…

Abstract

The intellectual trajectory of a central figure in contemporary organisation theory – Gareth Morgan – is identified and assessed through a detailed analysis of his published work over the last decade.

Details

Personnel Review, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0048-3486

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 7 February 2011

Gabriele Lakomski and Colin W. Evers

In this chapter, we present a critical assessment of contemporary organization theory variously described as either multiperspectival or fragmented. We argue that analytic…

Abstract

In this chapter, we present a critical assessment of contemporary organization theory variously described as either multiperspectival or fragmented. We argue that analytic philosophy as one of the major tools used for theorizing about organizations has had a major influence on the development of organization theory and largely explains the current state of affairs. At its core, we argue, is a fundamental methodological fissure in analytic philosophy itself: the distinction between descriptive and revisionary methods. The principal focus of descriptive analysis in organization theory is how agents use everyday language in organizational contexts, often by invoking language games. In contrast, revisionary approaches, concerned about the privileging of theories embedded in everyday language, as well as the complexity and ambiguity of ordinary-language use, aim for explicit theory evaluation and greater clarity by recasting ordinary language in formal systems, such as scientific, especially empiricist, theories, characteristic of the mainstream of theorizing about organizations from the 1940s onward. For a number of theoretical and epistemological reasons logical empiricism or positivism is no longer a widely held view either in the philosophy of science or in the organization theory. We examine some critical issues regarding logical empiricist epistemological foundations and propose a methodological naturalistic framework that supports the ongoing growth of knowledge in organization theory, naturalistic coherentism. In developing this new conception of science we thus opt for a revisionary methodology, but one that is beholden to neither the traditional logical empiricist/positivist conception of (organization) science nor the relativism and conservatism of postmodernist theory, widely considered to be the successor of positivist organization theory.

Book part
Publication date: 29 October 2014

Brian O’ Boyle and Terrence McDonough

This chapter undertakes one re-evaluation of Louis Althusser’s philosophical legacy for modern Marxism. While Althusser self-consciously undertook to defend the scientific…

Abstract

This chapter undertakes one re-evaluation of Louis Althusser’s philosophical legacy for modern Marxism. While Althusser self-consciously undertook to defend the scientific character of Marxism and so permanently establish it on a firm footing, many of his closest followers eventually exited the Marxian paradigm for a post-structuralism post-Marxism. We will argue that this development was rooted in Althusser’s initial procedure as he attempted to ground Marxism’s scientificity in an epistemological argument whose main referent was Marxism itself. This initiated a circularity which was ultimately to prove fatal to Althusser’s project. Less remarked upon, however, is a further legacy of the Althusserian oeuvre, the critical realist conception of Marxism initiated by Roy Bhaskar. Bhaskar found part of his inspiration in Althusser’s successful posing of the question of Marx’s science. On the one hand, Althusser’s work can legitimately be seen as a bridge into the post-modern challenge to Marxism. On the other hand, it can be seen as clearing the ground and establishing some of the foundation for critical realism’s successful recuperation of the scientific character of Marxism.

Details

Research in Political Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-007-0

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