EDEV_504 Week 1_6


Since posting my response to S, I could obtain a copy of Scientific Pluralism (Kellert, Longino & Waters, 2006). My understanding of the aims of scientific pluralism was inaccurate. Rather than an attempt to distance research from post-positivism, the work is a manifesto arguing for pluralism in natural sciences within post-positivism.

Monism is presented as the view that there exists “a single, complete, and comprehensive account of the natural world” (p. x). E. O. Wilson’s Consilience (1999) was not mentioned, a work that recognises that an “intrinsic unity of knowledge” (p. 8) is “not yet science” (p. 9) but one that nevertheless stands as a major contributer to the monist cause. Kellert et al. (2006) summarise how monists may respond to the scientific pluralist’s perspective;

“Monists might admit that a plurality of approaches and models can meet appropriate scientific standards (or satisfy the corresponding epistemic values) but insist that this is only because today’s science is incomplete” (p. xi).

Monism speaks to complicated interactions between entities, complications that may eventually be understood. Pluralism, on the other hand, sees the complexity that results when entities interact. The crucial difference here being that complexity entails the emergence of properties that are unpredictable from an understanding of the properties of the entities. This position may be a bridge between positivistic empiricism and qualitative research, my original assumption, but Kellert et al. are quick to point out that their endeavour is “empirically based pluralism” (p. xxiv).

Kellert, S., Longino, H. and Waters C. K. (eds.), 2006. Scientific Pluralism (Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. XIX), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Wilson, E. O. (1999). Consilience. New York: Vintage Books.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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