Publication 5380

Held B. S. (2018) Anything goes by the wayside: A reply to Raskin and Debany. Journal of Constructivist Psychology 31(4): 400–412. Fulltext at
Raskin and Debany (this issue) profess my failure to appreciate how constructivism does not warrant an “anything-goes” relativism. In this reply, I explain how whether any postmodernist doctrine endorses an “anything-goes” epistemology (or a radical relativism) depends on the nature of the constraints that warrant its propositions. I revisit the three core postmodernist claims that I criticized in previous work, which criticism Raskin and Debany now in turn criticize. Emphasis is given to how an objectivist epistemology, contrary to postmodernist belief, does not entail certitude, and moreover incorporates (a) active and indirect knowing, (b) the situated origins of all empirical knowledge, and (c) a subject/object distinction for certain kinds of human/social kinds. I use the example of racist rhetoric to illustrate how discourse can and does affect extradiscursive realities, thereby implicating our moral obligation to seek objective truth as best we can.

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