Burr, Vivien (2017) Constructivism and the Inescapability of Moral Choices: A Response to Raskin and Debany. Journal of Constructivist Psychology. ISSN 1072-0537

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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