Formation in Professional Education: An Examination of the Relationship between Theories of Meaning and Theories of the Self

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 36 (4):342-353 (2011)
Being formed through learning a practice is best understood within a constitutive theory of meaning as articulated by Charles Taylor. Disengaged views of the person cannot account for the formative changes in a person’s identity and capacities upon learning a professional practice. Representational or correspondence theories of meaning cannot account for formation. Formation occurs over time because students actively seek and take up new concerns and learn new knowledge and skills. Engaged situated reasoning about underdetermined practice situations requires well-formed skillful clinicians caring for particular patients in particular situations
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