Round 4A: Not a Knock-Out Punch, But Rather a Call For Pluralism -- A Further Reply to Held


  • Daniel B. Fishman Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey



pragmatism, natural science, positivism, conventional science, objectivity, causality, perspectivism, pluralism


This is the fourth round in my interchange with Barbara Held about the nature and role of objectivity and causality as they relate to the rationale for scientific and scholarly legitimacy of case study knowledge. Throughout, I have found Held’s critical responses to my views collegially delivered and very helpful in stimulating me to clarify and expand upon my own thinking. In this fourth and final round to our discussion, as context, I include a narrative summary of the back and forth in our discussion during the first three rounds. I then point out that Held’s definition of objective knowledge in Round 3 does not separate out a crucial distinction between (a) truth within a knowledge system that is a function of the internal logic of the system, and (b) the attitudes, values, and beliefs of particular individuals and groups. I argue that this distinction plays a very important pragmatic role in our society (e.g., in the functioning of the criminal justice system) in creating knowledge with important characteristics of objectivity — i.e., characteristics associated with the coherence and pragmatic criteria of truth. I also argue that this line of reasoning allows us to distinguish causal mechanisms that are more or less objective in their roles as conceptual tools. I conclude by proposing that broadening the concept of objectivity to include the coherence and pragmatic criteria of truth helps to facilitate acceptance of William James’ attractive idea of psychology as a “pluralistic society” rather than as a monolithic knowledge structure.




How to Cite

Fishman, D. B. (2006). Round 4A: Not a Knock-Out Punch, But Rather a Call For Pluralism -- A Further Reply to Held. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 2(4).