Logical Positivism and Gergen’s Social Constructionism: No Radical Disjunction in Twentieth Century Psychological Metatheory

  • Fiona J. Hibberd


K. J. Gergen’s postmodernist metatheory of psychological science — a radical form of social constructionism — is judged by many to be antithetical to positivist philosophy. However, the radical aspects of logical positivism are masked by their expressed empiricist intentions and there are, in fact, significant similarities between this philosophy and Gergen’s metatheory. Both subscribe to conventionalism and both (mis)appropriate Wittgenstein’s meaning-as-use thesis. These semantic similarities have their roots in a shared anti-realist epistemology in that both retain a link to Kant — they support the idea that we cannot know things as they are in themselves because we cannot know them directly. In psychology, the tradition of anti-realist metatheory continues.


Logical Positivism Semantic Similarity Social Constructionism Conceptual System Theoretical Proposition 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fiona J. Hibberd
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SydneyAustralia

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