Pragmatic Apparatus – Ethical realism before social constructionism

Cited by Lee Sonogan

Meta-ethics: Moral Realism Vs. Divine Command Theory

Abstract by Tore Dag Bøe

In this article, I explore the idea that there is a fundamental ethical aspect that precedes social constructionism. I suggest that within social constructionism we can identify a development from seeing knowledge as socially constructed (epistemological social constructionism) to seeing not only knowledge, but also corporeal ways of being as socially constructed (ontological social constructionism). As a next step, I propose incorporating what I refer to as ethical realism in social constructionist perspectives. In the encounter with the other human being, I argue that there is a real ethical impulse that precedes social constructionism and puts it in motion. This impulse is real in the sense that it is neither constructed within, nor is it dependent upon, any particular social–cultural–historical context. In this paper I consider the ethical aspects of human encounters that allow for a constructionist epistemology and ontology to emerge in the first place. I make use of ideas from Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Rancière and consider how these thinkers are used in the work of Gert Biesta. The ideas are discussed in relation to findings from a previous study by the author and his colleagues exploring the experiences of adolescents taking part in mental health services.

Publication: Theory & Psychology (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

Pub Date: Apr 14, 2021 Doi:

Keywords: ethical realism, Levinas, mental health, Rancière, social constructionism (Plenty more sections and references in this reseach article)

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