Thursday, 6 January 2011


I take a critical realist approach. Critical philosophy might be different. The "critical" of the critical realist is an answer to criticism of the totally positivist approach of a realist. Now I understand that my supervisor was telling me my approach is not philosophically critical. She's right, and I can still be a critical realist, can't I?

Critical realism is "a way of resolving or dissolving" issues around positivism and extreme constructivist positions {Mingers, 2004: 374}. "It's a response", says Mingers, "to the difficulty of maintaining a realist position in the face of criticisms" (page 380)

I understand that critical realism has strata: the real, the empirical and the actual, and I've tried to adapt Mingers diagram, above, to show how I think my research fits into these strata.

Yet Mingers addresses five criticisms of critical realism, and the fifth area is "the nature and extent of critical realism's claim to be 'critical'", which means "in the political sense of bringing about change in society" and that brings me back to my supervisor's argument that my work is not critical in that sense, the sense of challenging the status quo.

So oh dear! I'm arguing against myself. I have too little knowledge, enough to start arguing, but not enough to argue myself out of the spot my supervisor has put me in. Bother!

Mingers, J. and Willcocks, L. P. (Eds.) (2004) Social Theory and Philosophy for Information Systems, John Wiley.

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