The Many Truths of Postmodernist Discourse

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Abstract

The discourse of postmodernism proclaims with a unified voice the context-dependence or knower-dependence, the relativity or subjectivity, of all truth claims. But the discourse of postmodernism also proclaims universal truths upon which this antirealist epistemology itself rests. These constitute the very foundational claims that the postmodernist campaign, in all its alleged antifoundationalism, strives to subvert. In this article I consider three universal truth claims of postmodernist discourse. And because the antirealism that defines much of postmodernist discourse is often grounded in the doctrine of social constructionism, the three truth claims under consideration constitute the claims of social constructionism itself, especially the claims of social constructionism as it has been propounded within postmodern therapy circles. Each of the three claims is articulated, and then followed by a critique which asks whether the claim is not either (a) simply a variant of the so-called modernist paradigm that is under attack, or (b) the product of the very observational/empirical powers that postmodernist doctrine seeks to erode in its anti-empiricist spirit. Particular attention is given to challenging the value—found within postmodernist circles—of a pragmatic or utilitarian standard for acceptance of theory or discourse.

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