Reply to Gergen

FJ Hibberd*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Gergen's (2001) response to two recent papers (Hibberd, 2001a, 2001b) was to maintain that I (and other critics) assume the traditional approach to argument, one that is committed to both objectivity and the goal of truth. He finds this tradition no longer viable and he rejects the charge that social constructionism denies external reference. In this reply, I explain why that charge is made. I argue that (i) external reference is denied by his brand of social constructionism because the distinction between the act of proposing and what is proposed through that act is conflated, and (ii) Gergen's desire to 'sustain the,dialogue' requires him to take the principles of propositional logic as empirical, not conventional, and in so doing to also assume the traditional approach to argument. I also highlight certain features of realism of which some social constructionists appear unaware and I make clear the distinction between knowledge, certainty and fallibilism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-694
Number of pages10
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • epistemology
  • external reference
  • logic
  • realism
  • social constructionism

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