Constructivist Foundations 8 (1):5-12 (2012)

Problem: Is Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social systems based on a constructivist or on a realist epistemology? Luhmann’s own elaborations seem to oscillate between both standpoints. Method: The argumentation provided in this article starts with a detailed reconstruction of Luhmann’s epistemology and of Luhmann’s criticism towards radical constructivism and then examines the consequences for a comparison of systems theory and (radical) constructivism. Results: Although Luhmann’s operative constructivism can be distinguished from radical constructivism, the differences are not considered fundamental. Luhmann’s epistemology is clearly nearer to constructivism than to realism and it shares most of constructivism’s key concepts, such as self-referential logic, a strict relation between observer and observed, and the relativism of reality construction. Implications: Luhmann’s criticism of radical constructivism must be understood in the context of his sociological background. Most of his arguments against radical constructivism can be considered apprehensions of misleading interpretations of radical constructivism rather than of substantial criticism. They may help to clarify a radical constructivist epistemology. Constructivist content: The paper attempts to check whether Luhmann’s theory of social theory is based on (radical) constructivist epistemology
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,209
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What Exists Between Realism and Constructivism?A. Nassehi - 2012 - Constructivist Foundations 8 (1):14-15.
Who Observes? An Appropriate Theory of Observation is in Demand.H. Egner - 2012 - Constructivist Foundations 8 (1):12-13.
A Circular Comment on Luhmann as a Question Generator.K. H. Müller - 2012 - Constructivist Foundations 8 (1):28-30.
Some Reflections on Meaning.R. Harnden - 2012 - Constructivist Foundations 8 (1):95-97.
Radical Constructivism in Communication Science.A. Scholl - 2010 - Constructivist Foundations 6 (1):51-57.
Radical Constructivism and its Failings: Anti‐Realism and Individualism.Mark Olssen - 1996 - British Journal of Educational Studies 44 (3):275-295.
Radikaler Konstruktivismus Und Konstruktionismus.Hans Jürgen Wendel - 1992 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 23 (2):323 - 352.


Added to PP index

Total views
61 ( #176,939 of 2,455,142 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #225,792 of 2,455,142 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes