Constructivism and the Inescapability of Moral Choices: A Response to Raskin and Debany

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Abstract

In their article on ethics, Raskin and Debany (this issue) raise a number of important issues that merit discussion and have implications for a constructivist stance on ethics, an issue that has dogged constructivist and social constructionist theory and has, in the past, been the focus of a good deal of debate. In my response to their article, I focus on two issues before going on to consider what these imply for a constructivist ethics. The first is the status of “reality”; drawing on the work of French philosophers, discursive psychology, and symbolic interactionism, I argue that the constructivist conception of reality has been widely misunderstood and will outline what I regard as a defensible construction of reality. The second issue concerns the relationship between the individual and the social world; drawing again on earlier work in microsociology, I argue that the “constructed” individual must be understood as emerging from the social realm rather than preexisting it, and I argue for personal construct psychology as a candidate for filling the subjectivity “gap” in social constructionism. Finally, I use these conceptualizations of reality and the person to argue for an ethical stance of “radical doubt” for constructivism.
LanguageEnglish
Pages369-375
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Constructivist Psychology
Volume31
Issue number4
Early online date21 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018

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constructivism
Ethics
moral philosophy
microsociology
psychology
Psychology
symbolic interactionism
social construction
subjectivity
candidacy
human being

Cite this

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title = "Constructivism and the Inescapability of Moral Choices: A Response to Raskin and Debany",
abstract = "In their article on ethics, Raskin and Debany (this issue) raise a number of important issues that merit discussion and have implications for a constructivist stance on ethics, an issue that has dogged constructivist and social constructionist theory and has, in the past, been the focus of a good deal of debate. In my response to their article, I focus on two issues before going on to consider what these imply for a constructivist ethics. The first is the status of “reality”; drawing on the work of French philosophers, discursive psychology, and symbolic interactionism, I argue that the constructivist conception of reality has been widely misunderstood and will outline what I regard as a defensible construction of reality. The second issue concerns the relationship between the individual and the social world; drawing again on earlier work in microsociology, I argue that the “constructed” individual must be understood as emerging from the social realm rather than preexisting it, and I argue for personal construct psychology as a candidate for filling the subjectivity “gap” in social constructionism. Finally, I use these conceptualizations of reality and the person to argue for an ethical stance of “radical doubt” for constructivism.",
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Constructivism and the Inescapability of Moral Choices : A Response to Raskin and Debany. / Burr, Vivien.

In: Journal of Constructivist Psychology, Vol. 31, No. 4, 02.10.2018, p. 369-375.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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