Publication 3924

Garrison J. W. (1986) Some principles of postpositivist philosophy of science. Educational Researcher 15(9): 12–18. Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3924
In recent years there has been a great deal of methodological debate among educational researchers, theoreticians, and practitioners concerning issues such as relativism raised by the so-called “new,” “Kuhnian” or “postpositivistic” philosophy of science. The intensity of this debate notwithstanding, the fundamental principles and their relations that comprise the postpositivistic view have not always been carefully spelled out. Some of the principles discussed will include (a) the problem of confirmation, (b) the underdetermination of theory by logic, (c) the underdetermination of theory by experience, (d) the Quine-Duhem thesis, (e) the theoryladenness of experience, and (f) the incommensurability of theories. No attempt will be made to evaluate these principles. However, those who are prepared to accept all of these will be hard pressed to avoid the dangers of relativism. I will argue that these dangers, if they exist, may be lessened if not eliminated by practicing the pragmatic virtues of epistemological conservatism and good sense.

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