Page 131 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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provide the context for those decisions and methods. And the concern gets a label – the error
of synecdoche – namely, the power of “science.”
“Scientific principles are generalizations of known facts about natural phenomena in
such a way that we can invoke them to explain a large body of facts and we can
invoke them to make predictions about yet-to-be-found facts. In short, the power of a
scientific theory is its explanatory and predictive power.” (Union of Concerned
Scientists, 2007)
“We do not teach magic in our schools.” (Austin, 2014)
What we say about the existence of reality, and the possibility of having knowledge of
and putting forward true descriptions of reality, inevitably has consequences for what
we may say about the existence of persons, and the knowledge and descriptions of
persons about themselves. In particular, they fail to see that we cannot raise any
doubts or questions about the independent existence of reality, or about the possibility
that reality exists as something about which we may have objective knowledge, and
of which we may put forward true descriptions, without at the same time doubting or
questioning our own objective existence and the truth of any cognition and
description of ourselves. (Praetorius, 2003).
Richard Rorty (1979) has stated that we should “see knowledge as a matter of
conversation and of social practice rather than as an attempt to mirror nature . . . (p.
171). To the constructivist, knowledge does not necessarily reflect or map exactly the
external reality, but consists of a set of workable hypotheses, or “templates,”
constantly being put to the test in interactions with other people’s constructions of the
“same” situation. Not only are such construct systems complex and intricate, but it
seems certain that no two people would ever have exactly the same cognitive
structures. (Candy, 1991)
Pragmatic constructivism is defined by Nørreklit (2010) as follows:
“Pragmatic constructivism is based on the thesis that four dimensions of reality must
be integrated in the actor-world relation if the construct is to be successful as a basis
for undertaking actions. These four dimensions are facts, possibilities, values and
communication. … Facts are necessary as a basis of action. Facts alone are
insufficient. If there are no possibilities there can be no action. If one has no
possibilities then one is dead. The possibilities must be grounded in the facts.
Otherwise they are fictional. Further, possibilities create room for choice, but they
only function if there is a reason to choose and prefer one possibility to the other i.e. if
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