Page 132 - MODES of EXPLANATION

Basic HTML Version

the actor has values and the values lie within the range of one’s possibilities. Finally,
the integration of facts, possibilities and value must be expressed in communication in
order to enable action in a social setting. If the integration of facts, possibilities, value
and communication dissolves, then the ability to act intentionally breaks down
because the distinction between true and false in the pragmatic sense, i.e. between
successful and unsuccessful action, breaks down.” … Pragmatic constructivism
therefore implies that a continuous major task is to extract, from the phenomena they
wish to represent, the facts which have to be considered during the process of their
accounting for it. Facts will include not only objects but also actions and events which
the accountant deems relevant.
The pragmatic constructivist rejects the two tenets of creationism (non-accidentalism as
origin, and magic as method) while at the same time having empathy for the clash in
worldviews, notions of agency, authority, and control, and the psychology of self-identity and
meaning that present themselves just below the surface of the creationism/evolution debate.
As Zach Kopplin’s text makes clear, the debate is about what items are “worthy” of the
synecdoche label “science.” To Kopplin and his intellectual allies, to yield on questions of
what is science is to risk the admission of “belief” into both scientific practice and into the
predictions and decisions that emanate therefrom. Yet, the pragmatic constructivist would
note, such “belief” is always present, for the practice of science itself is an inductive exercise
that treats the not-yet-falsified expressions of pattern codified by human cognition into
models and labels (and on which affordances rely and fundierung is experienced) as “fact.”
The “realist” accepts that factual ascription. The pragmatic constructivist is not so sure. After
all, it was Einstein (1934/1954) who unabashedly declared, “To him who is a discoverer in
this field, the products of his imagination appear so necessary and natural that he regards
them, and would like to have them regarded by others, not as creations of thought but as
given realities.”
“Realists believe that science aims to tell us about reality, not about our experiences;
that its knowledge claims are evaluated by reference to the world, not by reference to
personal, social, or national utility or viability; that scientific methodology is
normative, and consequently distinctions can be made between good and bad science;
that science is objective in the sense of being different from personal, inner
experience; that science tries to identify and minimize the impact of non-cognitive
interests (political, religious, gender, class) in its development; that decision-making
in science has a central cognitive element and is not reducible to mere sociological
considerations.” (Matthews, 2000)
“Constructivists’ emphasis on the co-constitution of the actors also entails a reflexive
reworking of the relationship between the subject and object of enquiry; given that,
unlike with regard to the natural world, the distinction between subject and object
13