Organization theory and philosophy: dissolving the realism-constructivism debate

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    Abstract

    The topic of this paper is the constructivism-realism debate, construed as an example of the intrusion of philosophy into science. Against this intrusion I maintain that philosophical problems are not only different from scientific and practical ones. They are also problematic in themselves. That is why their import into our scientific and practical work only creates confusions that hinder us in our work. The aim of the paper is to show that the philosophical problems that create those confusions need a Wittgensteinian therapeutic treatment. The method of the paper consists in comparing what philosophers (or philosophising scientists) say we do with what we actually do. After giving an example of what happens when a rightly respected scientist starts philosophizing, the method is applied, first, to the relation between language and the world and, second, to the relation between theories and the world. In the first application a story about three umpires is used to distinguish language and discourse, between questions of meaning (of the words we use) and questions of truth (of the things we say). In the second application a comparison between maps and theories is used to show the difference between assessing the truth of descriptive statements and explanatory theories. The examples of the umpires and maps are introduced by Weick and in both cases I show that neither constructivist nor metaphysical realist conclusions follow.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusIn preparation - 30 Jan 2019

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    Keywords

    • constructivism
    • realism
    • philosophy of science

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