EDEV_504 Week 1_5

I enjoyed your exposition of key issues surrounding assumptions about the nature of reality. You bring up the notions of monism and pluralism as a way of deciding on truth, but you didn’t express your opinion. What is your view; should research be seen from a monist or pluralist perspective?

My own view is tentatively settled, but I’d appreciate being challenged. I cannot accept monism either philosophically or methodologically (at this moment). I have the sense that mixed methods and qualitative methods have been psychologically influenced by the need to separate themselves from post-positivism. Much of the literature (I couldn’t get access to the Kellert, Longino & Waters collection of essays on Scientific Pluralism, but from the reviews, all of the articles) can be read as a meta-discussion on this need for separation. In other words, non-positivist perspectives have not yet achieved a maturity, a self-confidence in their status. Although Guba and Lincoln (1994) argue that the more quantifiable a science is, the more maturity it is deemed to have and that soft sciences are labelled so “less with pejorative intent” (p. 106.), in the popular imagination, soft ‘sciences’ still have to demonstrate their right to the label of ‘science’, a fact often used in comedies to lampoon social sciences. If my assessment is accurate, meta-discussions on non-positivistic research need to be located in their historical context. There is a sense of historicity in the attempt to ‘prove’ the authenticity and validity of non-positivistic research, an attempt that once realised will be forgotten and relegated to something like ‘Remember the days when phenomenologists had to defend their method?’

Do others share my view, or are the underlying questions of: what counts as knowledge? and who has the right to decide? not yet resolved?


Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2, 164–194.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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