Realism, Relativism, and Evolutionary Psychology

M. Derksen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Against recent attempts to forge a reconciliation between constructionism and realism, I contend that, in psychology at least, stirring up conflict is a more fruitful strategy. To illustrate this thesis, I confront a school of psychology with strong realist leanings, evolutionary psychology, with the relativist critique of realism proposed by Edwards, Ashmore, and Potter. I show that evolutionary psychology employs the kind of "bottomline arguments" that they identify as typical of realist rhetoric. However, it also proposes a modified realism based on a concept of mediation, which accommodates a moderate social constructionism. I argue that there are good reasons to reject such a settlement between realism and constructionism. The theories of emergence that have been developed both in biology and in science and technology studies cast doubt on the view of the brain as a fully specifiable mediator.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-487
Number of pages21
JournalTheory & Psychology
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2010

Keywords

  • emergence
  • evolutionary psychology
  • reconciliation
  • relativism
  • rhetoric
  • DEVELOPMENTAL DYNAMICS
  • SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION
  • SCIENCE
  • ATTRACTIVENESS

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