On Acting and Knowing
Title: On Acting and Knowing
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2007/35
This article moves from deconstruction to reconstruction in epistemology and research methodology. To begin with, we show why many social scientists are mistaken in their hope to obtain warranted knowledge in practical matters through standard social scientific methodologies. We do so by subjecting two versions of the belief in traditional epistemological projects to critical scrutiny. First, we discuss Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, which for centuries provided the most developed epistemological approach. Second, we critically reflect upon the “unity of science” position by showing how a series of more recent epistemological debates in mathematics and logic have ended in impasse. Having revisited Kant’s critical epistemology and other attempts to set knowledge on secure foundations, in section two we argue that the time has come for a pragmatic turn. In sections three and four we suggest that a coherent pragmatic approach consists of two elements: the recognition of knowledge generation as a social and discursive praxis, and the recognition that research should be oriented towards the generation of useful knowledge. We provide a number of concrete suggestions for abduction as a pragmatic research strategy, and we deflect predictable anxieties that our ideas imply an end to the scientific search for sound and solid knowledge.
Subject: Abduction; epistemology; methodology; pragmatism; research design; Immanuel Kant
Type of Access: openAccess