Jacob J. Walker's Blog

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Archive for July 29th, 2013

Some Thoughts about Finding Common Ground in a World of Philosophical Pluralism

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Dr. Paul Prinsloo just shared with me A Researcher’s Dilemma-Philosophical and Methodological Pluralism which mostly examines the fallacy that quantitative and qualitative research methods (along with others) are mutually exclusive.  But it does posit that it is not acceptable to have philosophical pluralism.  I have been thinking quite a bit about my stance on philosophy, and here is an excerpt of what I emailed back to Paul:

Another great article that will give me more food for thought.  The only part of disagreement I have thus far, is its stance that philosophical pluralism is not acceptable.  Although I should be very careful with my words on this, lest they be misunderstood.   It seems to me that there is a pluralism of philosophies because there are certain fundamental principles of knowledge that can not be definitively known.  For example, is there a “right” way to do things, or are ethics completely subjective to the needs of survival or whim of the person?  Is it a subjective or objective world?

But, there are some things that are clear about philosophies.  First, they must all come from at least a weak form of empiricism, in the sense that if a person (or I suppose other sentient being) cannot think of something then it cannot be a philosophy (or at least not one that can ever be knowable).   Also, it appears that all philosophies are attempting to explain the world, which seems to be mostly the same, or at least I should say shared world.  Because we are in a shared world, I think we can often find common ground, where it is possible in at least some circumstances for different sets of underlying beliefs to come to similar conclusions about the shared world.  Thus in this sense, I believe that there sometimes can be philosophical pluralism.

And the more I think about what I want my research to do, the more I see this as a goal, which seems to go inline with what I’m learning about Reflective Equilibrium.  I believe that common ground can be found in a practical way between “The Right to Science and Culture” and “Intellectual Property Rights” by people having an awareness of Creative Commons licensing, and the freedom to choose to use such a license for their work (and also the freedom to choose not to use such a license).

Written by Jacob Walker

July 29th, 2013 at 7:13 am

Posted in Philosophy