Conclusions and speculations

Fiona Hibberd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript/introductionpeer-review


The aim in this book has been to examine certain "meta-issues" which have become prominent in the social sciences following the advent of social constructionism. I have argued that the charges levelled at constructionism, of non-trivial (epistemological) relativism and (absolute) self-refutation, do not have the force which some assume them to have. Both charges depend on concepts and assumptions which constructionism has rejected. If questions are not begged in favour of these concepts and assumptions, Gergen's metatheory exemplifies a trivial form of relativism and is not necessarily false, but operationally self-refuting. He cannot succeed in providing an internalist account of language-use, but the truth of such an account is a contingent matter. If true, it could never be said. Gergen's attempt to provide such an account rests on constructionism's piecemeal (mis)appropriation of Austin's concept of performative utterances. Gergen must demonstrate that all
indicatives operate as pure performatives, but he does not succeed in this. His
example of "a local game of description" does not exclude matters of fact being
conveyed by discourse. Nor does it exclude the possibility that all speech-acts have components which are fact-stating.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnfolding social constructionism
EditorsMan Cheung Chung
Place of PublicationNew York, USA
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780387229751
ISBN (Print)9780387229751
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameHistory and Philosophy of Psychology

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