Since the publication of Roy Bhaskar's A Realist Theory of Science in 1975, criticalrealism has emerged as one of the most powerful new directions in the philosophy of science and social science, offering a real alternative to both positivism and postmodernism. This reader makes accessible in one volume key readings to stimulate debate about and within criticalrealism, including: the transcendental realist philosophy of science elaborated in A Realist Theory of Science ; Bhaskar's critical (...) naturalist philosophy of social science; the theory of explanatory critique, which is central to criticalrealism; and the theme of dialectic, which is central to Bhaskar's most recent writings. The volume includes extracts from Bhaskar's most important books, as well as selections from all of the other most important contributors to the critical realist program. It also includes both a general introduction and original introductions to each section. (shrink)
This book introduces social scientists to the difference that criticalrealism can make to theorizing and methodological problems within the contemporary social sciences. The chapters, which cover such topics as cultural studies, feminism, globalization, heterodox economics, education policy, the self, and the "underclass" debate, are arranged in four sections dealing with some of the major topics in contemporary social science: ethics, the consequences of the "linguistic turn", methodology and globalization.
At the heart of contemporary relativism, is the idea that the world has no mind-independent characteristics. As there is no way that the world is on its own, any opinions held may be regarded as valid. Criticalrealism is a promising alternative to such a position. Criticalrealism allows for the conclusion that certain processes lead to specific outcomes regardless of how we think about them, which in turn places a limited but crucial check on relativism. (...) Groff defends "realism about causality" through close discussions of Kant, Hilary Putnam, Brain Ellis and Charles Taylor, among others. In so doing she affirms criticalrealism, but with several important qualifications. In particular, she rejects the theory of truth advanced by Roy Bhaskar. She also attempts to both clarify and correct earlier critical realist attempts to apply realism about causality to the social sciences. By connecting issues in metaphysics and philosophy of science to the problem of relativism, Groff bridges the gap betweenthe philosophical literature and broader debates surrounding socio-political theory and poststructuralist thought. This unique approach will make the book of interest to philosophers and socio-political theorists alike. (shrink)
Abstract This paper explores gender and mental health with particular reference to the emerging philosophical field of criticalrealism. This philosophy suggests a shared ontology and epistemology for the natural and social sciences. Until recently, most of the debate surrounding gender and mental health has been guided either implicitly or explicitly within a positivist or constructivist philosophy. With this in mind, key areas of criticalrealism are explored in relation to gender and mental health, and contrasted (...) with the positions of positivism and constructivism. It is argued that criticalrealism offers an alternative philosophical framework for the exploration of gender issues within mental health care. (shrink)
There is a growing perception among economists that their field is becoming increasingly irrelevant due to its disregard for reality. Criticalrealism addresses the failure of mainstream economics to explain economic reality and proposes an alternative approach. This book debates the relative strengths and weaknesses of criticalrealism, in the hopes of developing a more fruitful and relevant socio-economic ontology and methodology. With contributions from some of the leading authorities in economic philosophy, it includes the work (...) of theorists critical of this approach. In the first part, contributors develop and deepen economics as a realist social theory by considering the work of individuals, various schools of thought, socio- economic phenomena and methodology. In the second part, contributors weigh the strengths and weaknesses of criticalrealism. (shrink)
This intriguing new book examines and analyses the role of criticalrealism in economics and specifically how this line of thought can be applied to the real world. With contributions from such varying commentators as Sheila Dow, Wendy Olsen and Fred Lee, this new book is unique in its approach and will be of great interest to both economic methodologists and those involved in applied economic studies.
To date, B&S researchers have pursued their normative aims through strategic and moral arguments that are limited because they adopt a rational actor behavioral model and firm-level focus. I argue that it would be beneficial for B&S scholars to pursue alternate approaches based on criticalrealism (CR) and neoinstitutional theory (IT). Such a shift would have a number of benefits. For one, CR and IT recognize the complex roots of firm behavior and provide tools for its investigation. Both (...) approaches also note the importance of social context and IT, in particular, points to tangible sites where changes in (and outcomes of) corporate practices can be assessed. CR also has an emancipatory ethos which harkens a role for scholars in social change, while IT provides mechanisms to ground this ethos in tangible activities that go beyond appealing to managers’ strategic or moral sensibilities. (shrink)
For advocates of criticalrealism emergence is a central theme. Critical realists typically ground their defence of the relative disciplinary autonomy of various sciences by arguing that emergent phenomena exist in a robust non-ontologically, non-causally reductionist sense. Despite the importance they attach to it critical realists have only recently begun to elaborate on emergence at length and systematically compare their own account with those developed by others. This paper clarifies what is distinctive about the critical (...) realist account of emergence by comparing it with an alternative. Criticalrealism and interactivism are shown to independently converge on the same general process (or constraint) view of emergence and develop complementary accounts of particular emergents. (shrink)
Social network analysis (SNA) is an increasingly popular approach that provides researchers with highly developed tools to map and analyze complexes of social relations. Although a number of network scholars have explicated the assumptions that underpin SNA, the approach has yet to be discussed in relation to established philosophies of science. This article argues that there is a tension between applied and methods-oriented SNA studies, on the one hand, and those addressing the social-theoretical nature and implications of networks, on the (...) other. The former, in many cases, exhibits positivist tendencies, whereas the latter incorporate a number of assumptions that are directly compatible with core critical realist views on the nature of social reality and knowledge. This article suggests that SNA may be detached from positivist social science and come to constitute a valuable instrument in the critical realist toolbox. (shrink)
This book expounds the transcendental realist theory of science and critical naturalist social philosophy that have been developed by Bhaskar and are used by many contemporary social scientists. It defends Bhaskar's view that the possibility and necessity of experiment show that reality is structured and stratified, his use of this idea to develop a non-reductive explanatory account of human sciences, and his notion that to explain social structures can sometimes be to criticize them. After a discussion of the uses (...) of criticalrealism in controversial areas of social science, Bhaskar's optimism about the prospects of human sciences is criticized. (shrink)
The rise of neo-integrative worldviews : towards a rational spirituality for the coming planetary civilization -- Beyond fundamentalism : spiritual realism, spiritual literacy and education -- Realism, literature and spirituality -- Judgemental rationality and the equivalence of argument : realism about God, response to Morgan's critique -- Transcendence and God : reflections on criticalrealism, the "new atheism", and Christian theology -- Human sciences at the edge of panentheism : God and the limits of ontological (...)realism -- Beyond East and West -- Meta-Reality (re-)contextualized -- Anti-anthropic spirituality : dualism, duality and non-duality -- "The more you kick God out the front door, the more he comes in through the window" : Sean Creaven's critique of transcendental dialectical criticalrealism and the philosophy of meta-Reality -- Resisting the theistic turn -- The pulse of freedom and the existential dilemma of alienation -- Meta-Reality, creativity and the experience of making art. (shrink)
Some scholars claim that CriticalRealism promises well for the unification of the social sciences, e.g., "Unifying social science: A critical realist approach" in this volume. I will first show briefly how CriticalRealism might unify social science. Secondly, I focus on the relation between the ontology and methodology of CriticalRealism, and unveil the politics of metaphysics. Subsequently, it is argued that the division of labour between social scientific disciplines should not be (...) metaphysics-driven, but rather question-driven. In conclusion, I will therefore defend a question-driven pluralism as a guide for interdisciplinarity. (shrink)
Archaeological theory -- Philosophy and archaeology -- Criticalrealism as critique of Western philosophy -- Criticalrealism as philosophical underlabourer -- Diversity and impasse in current archaeological theorising -- The contradictions of archaeological theory -- The material in archaeological theory -- Criticalrealism, the material, and absence -- Time, scale, and the ontology of the material -- Conclusions, implications, and further research.
Bhaskar's "Spiritual turn" : logical and conceptual problems -- Meta-reality, criticalrealism, and Marxism -- Secularism, agnosticism, and theism -- Criticalrealism, transcendence, and God -- Humanism, spiritualism, and critical theory.
This article examines the convergence between Italian relational sociology, developed by Pierpaolo Donati and introduced here by Emmanuele Morandi, and criticalrealism. Whilst the latter is preoccupied with relations between people and structures, Donati sees the whole social order as a relational entity sui generis. Consequently, relational sociology can provide a fuller account of ‘social integration’ than criticalrealism, which concentrates upon ‘malintegration’ because of its transformative potential. This difference is viewed as a potential source of (...) synergy between these two versions of realism. (shrink)
This paper defends a dynamic model of the way in which perception is integrated with action, a model I refer to as ‘the navigational account’. According to this account, employing vision and other forms of distance perception, a creature acquires information about its surroundings via the senses, information that enables it to select and navigate routes through its environment, so as to attain objects that satisfy its needs. This form of perceptually guided activity should be distinguished from other kinds of (...) semi-automatic responses to visual stimuli that do not necessarily involve conscious experiences. It essentially involves inner states, which involve both the awareness of phenomenal qualities, and also a representational component. The navigational account is compared here with the enactive approach to perception, which opposes the view that perceptual experiences are inner states. This paper argues that a full account of perception raises a number of different questions. One central explanatory project concerns questions about the kinds of processes that currently enable a creature to identify and respond appropriately to distant objects: the answer, it is argued, lies in acknowledging the role of conscious inner representations in guiding navigational behaviour through complex environments. The fact that perception and action are interdependent does not conflict with the claim that inner representational states comprise an essential stage in visual processing. (shrink)
This paper questions and criticizes the employment of criticalrealism in the field of ‘science and religion’. Referring to the texts of four main actors in this field, I demonstrate how the choice of criticalrealism is justified by a (disguised) apologetic interest in defending the epistemic privilege of the theological enterprise against that of the natural sciences. I argue that this is possible thanks to the reactivation of ‘theological potential’ latent in some under-examined assumptions and (...) conceptual structures still at work within philosophy of science and scientific epistemology. (shrink)
This paper focuses on postcolonial theory’s engagement with modernity. It argues that postcolonialism’s problematization of modernity is significant and has to be contended with seriously. In seeking to question the predatory universalism of western modernity, postcolonial theory aspires to open up paths for different modernities that have the promise of emancipation and liberation for all cultures and societies. But the crux of this paper is that this promise is hardly fulfilled. Using criticalrealism, it interrogates postcolonialism’s understanding of (...) modernity. It demonstrates that, with regard to various aspects such as the material dimension, structural conditions, binaries and dualisms, relativism, fallibilism, temporality and structure/agency, postcolonialism’s formulations are incomplete and inadequate. Ultimately, from a critical realist perspective, the non-fulfilment of postcolonialism’s initial promise has serious consequences for the subjects of the ‘Third World’ that the theory claims to represent. (shrink)
Criticalrealism, especially as developed by Roy Bhaskar, embodies at its heart systemic and holistic concepts such as totality, emergence, open systems, stratification, autopoiesis and holistic causality. These concepts have their own long history of development in disciplines such as systems thinking and cybernetics, but there is an absence in Bhaskar’s writings, and that absence is a lack of any reference to the corresponding systems literature. The purpose of this paper is threefold: (i) to demonstrate the extent of (...) this correspondence; (ii) to show that criticalrealism can benefit from an exposure to these other discourses; and (iii) to show that systems thinking too can gain philosophically from criticalrealism. (shrink)
This piece outlines the opportunities and obstacles to the appli- cation of criticalrealism to the study of the self. Based on a recent seminar on the subject, the paper discusses a number of diverse approaches to the application of criticalrealism to selfhood, identity and psychology. It is argued that for the social sciences, the political dangers of essentialism in studying the self require clear explication of how critical realist approaches do not necessarily lead (...) to reductionism or determinism. (shrink)
This paper interprets Karl Polanyi through dialectical criticalrealism. The paper maintains that this interpretation offers Polanyi methodological coherence and philosophical support. It further provides dialectical criticalrealism with an exemplar of explanatory critique. It is argued that the social theory of Polanyi aims at the demystification of market-systems as they are theoretically constructed by both orthodox and heterodox accounts of capitalism. Dialectical criticalrealism is best capable of situating the theoretical accomplishment of Polanyi’s (...) historical and dialectical critiques of social being. (shrink)
The primacy of practice in the development of knowledge is one of materialism’s fundamental tenets. Most arguments supporting it have been strictly philosophical. However, over the past thirty years cognitive science has provided mounting evidence supporting the primacy of practice. Particularly striking is its finding that thought is fundamentally metaphoric—that images emerging from everyday embodied activities not only make ordinary experiences intelligible, but also underpin our more abstract engagements with the world, elaborated in disciplines such as ethics and science. Cognitive (...) science’s implications must now be absorbed into criticalrealism. Cognitive science bolsters criticalrealism by providing a scientifically-grounded analysis of the passage from body to mind and the fundamental unity between them, while sustaining their distinctiveness. Its implications for criticalrealism ripple out in four waves: first, criticalrealism’s understanding of the mind/body relationship; second, its concepts of the process that connects theory and practice, and what that means for criticalrealism’s view of intellectual production, the place of metaphor in scientific theorization, and cultural development; its view of culture as a complexwhole; and finally, its theory of human agency as embodied and intentional. (shrink)
Within critical realist circles, the development of knowledge in the natural and social domains has thus far been much stronger by comparison with its respective development within the personal domain. What I want to explore here is how knowledge can be positively used to have emancipatory effects at the level of the individual. The way in which we are able to achieve this is by coming to have what Spinoza calls more adequate ideas of ourselves, other beings, and our (...) place in nature through strengthening the explanatory power and minimizing the fallibility of the knowledge we use in our judgements and progressive articulations of personal situations by making use of explanatory critique and cause-object matching techniques. This article explains what an explanatory critique actually is and does before turning to explain why it interests us in relation to Spinoza’s thought and then how it is specifically useful in connection with emotional revision and control. (shrink)
This essay develops a theory of representation that confirms realism – an objective dependent on establishing that reality is autonomous of representation. I argue that the autonomy of reality is not incompatible with epistemic access and that an adequate account of representation is capable of satisfying both criteria. Pursuit of this argument brings the work of C. S. Peirce and Roy Bhaskar together. Peirce’s doctrine of semiotics is essentially a realist theory of representation and is thus relevant to the (...) project of criticalrealism. However, criticalrealism is also required to finesse Peirce’s intricate over-theorising. Although a complete treatment remains absent from Bhaskar’s writings, his philosophy, I discovered, incorporates an implicit theory of representation. Peirce can be employed to extract this theory and amplify it. The only way the problem of representation can be addressed adequately is to locate it in a realist framework. This, however, is contingent on re-conceiving representation as a process rather than an object. Such a ‘perspectival switch’ reconfirms the intentional structure of representation but also suggests that it be considered in teleological terms as an activity oriented to a trans-representational object. Representation finally emerges as a form of inquiry with the aim to make being accessible in its autonomy. (shrink)
After decades of postcolonial development planning in the former colonies of Africa, one question that has been asked over and over again concerns how much has changed in Africa since the launch of what used to be called the first, second, third and other development decades. There is no doubt that national development policies and plans have played significant roles in influencing the direction of the post-political-independence development processes in Africa. This paper argues, however, that far more serious attention needs (...) to be paid by the African public to the important contributions that the nature of their development plans can make in the transformations of their lives. This paper uses development plans as an exemplar of social mechanisms in critical realist philosophy and argues that the development planning authorities in Africa need to take seriously the nature of the relations between their ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ sectors in the formulation and implementation of their development plans. (shrink)
Indigenous critiques of postcolonialism are as diverse as First Nations or Original Peoples communities themselves. Yet, within that diversity, there is often claimed to be a set of core universal teachings. My article engages this field in a three-step process that begins with examining the incorporation of two Indigenous critiques into a Handbook of Qualitative Research edited by Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln. Focusing on justice through their lens of an ethics and politics of interpretation, Denzin and Lincoln simultaneously reject (...) much of what they claim criticalrealism advocates. They then deny any significant emancipatory potential to criticalrealism. This article immanently critiques their denial. In doing so it argues a case, on the one hand, for the explanatory potential of dialectical criticalrealism and the philosophy of meta-Reality both generally and in the case of postcolonialism as decolonizing praxis. On the other hand, viewing Indigenous critiques within an interpretive paradigm risks ensnaring them within modernist dualist categories, postmodernist unconstrained deconstruction or poststructuralist formless flux. Such a reading thus restricts their capacity to contribute to depth-totalizing praxis. I introduce a critical realist reading of Indigenous critiques and conclude that the political programme of emancipation is strengthened through an interweaving of criticalrealism and Indigenous political philosophy. (shrink)
Criticalrealism is the middle road between the extreme versions of constructivism and objectivism. It is applied here to liberal arts education in general, and specifically to liberal arts education for learners of English. Criticalrealism can help promote greater coherence in liberal education, and educators can apply criticalrealism as they develop a unified and purposeful curriculum of liberal arts content for learners of English. Criticalrealism also influences how teachers perceive (...) the learning environment, and it affects how educators think about learner and teacher beliefs regarding education. Moreover, criticalrealism can influence education in moral and political terms, enabling educators to critically infuse moral realism into the study of the liberal arts and sciences. (shrink)
When education is jointly managed by a workplace and academia, causal mechanisms in the culture, structure and agency of these two contexts may unintentionally generate discourse that conveys conflicting messages for learners regarding some of the priorities of the profession. Using the concepts of culture, structure and agency as they are used in criticalrealism to analyse the discourse generated in two teaching and learning contexts (a radiography division in a university and a radiography workplace in a large (...) state tertiary academic hospital), this paper attempts (i) to identify possible causal mechanisms that generated discourse concerning the role and value of writing competency for radiographers, such that this discourse possibly influenced learners not to be motivated to improve their writing competency to their lecturers’ satisfaction; and (ii) to suggest what practices and influences might successfully generate an alternative emancipatory discourse. Drawing on Margaret Archer’s (1995) morphogenetic approach, the paper argues that the radiography lecturers have the primary agency to address this unsatisfactory situation, as it is through their interaction – both as a team and with other relevant stakeholders – that an alternative emancipatory discourse may be generated. (shrink)
The question that motivates this article has been a matter of dispute: Is it possible to combine perpetual economic growth and longterm environmental sustainability based on the premise that economic growth can be fully decoupled from negative environmental impacts? The article addresses this question from the position of criticalrealism. An empirical study focusing on the housing sector is conducted, indicating that housing stock growth and economic growth have been, at best, weakly decoupled from environmental impacts. In the (...) long run, it seems implausible that the degree of decoupling can be increased at a rate sufficient to compensate for continual growth in the volume of housing stock. A further elaboration of the topic at an ontological level leads to the conclusion that continual economic growth and long-term environmental sustainability can hardly be combined. Content Type Journal Article Category Article Pages 438-461 DOI 10.1558/jcr.v11i4.438 Authors Jin Xue, Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University Journal Journal of CriticalRealism Online ISSN 1572-5138 Print ISSN 1476-7430 Journal Volume Volume 11 Journal Issue Volume 11, Number 4 / 2012. (shrink)
In Against the Spiritual Turn: Marxism, Realism and Critical Theory Sean Creaven sets out to reject Christian theism on materialist grounds. This paper critiques Creaven’s argument from a critically realist Trinitarian Christian standpoint. His failure to engage with Christian theologians, philosophers and biblical scholars, on the a priori ground that since Christianity is inherently irrational Christian scholarship must also be inherently irrational, effectively locks his argument in a vicious intellectual circle. His self-imposed alienation from Christian scholarship generates an (...) ideologically driven thesis of questionable academic integrity. This methodological failure is exacerbated by his preference for inductive and deductive reasoning over a critically realistic retroductive epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Theodor W. Adorno's philosophy of freedom needs an ontological picture of the world. Adorno does not make his view of natural order explicit, but I suggest it could be neither the chaotic nor the strictly determined ontological images common to idealism and positivism, and that it would have to make intelligible the possibility both of human freedom and of critical social science. I consider two possible candidates, Nancy Cartwright's ‘patchwork of laws’, and Roy (...) Bhaskar's criticalrealism. Arguing that Cartwright's position conflicts with the spirit of Adorno's philosophy, I suggest that Bhaskar's realism is compatible with and to a significant extent implicit in Adorno's position. Whilst Adorno is clearly not a critical realist, Bhaskar's position does provide the best overall account of the ontological commitments of Adorno's critical theory. It becomes possible in turn to locate Bhaskar's arguments in a broader critical tradition and give fuller expression to the concerns that structure his work, in particular by locating the epistemic fallacy in the narrative account of the natural history of subjective reason and its tendency towards ‘identity thinking’. The discussion goes on to consider the interdependence of reason, nature and freedom in the idea of emancipatory critique, confirming the deeper affinities between criticalrealism and critical theory. (shrink)