DEFORGE R and SHAW J. Nursing Inquiry 2012; 19: 83–95 Back- and fore-grounding ontology: exploring the linkages between critical realism, pragmatism, and methodologies in health & rehabilitation sciences
As two doctoral candidates in a health and rehabilitation sciences program, we describe in this paper our respective paradigmatic locations along a quite nonlinear ontological-epistemological-axiological-methodological chain. In a turn-taking fashion, we unpack the tenets of critical realism and pragmatism, and then trace the linkages from these paradigmatic locations through to the methodological choices that address a community-based research problem. Beyond serving as an answer to calls for academics in training to demonstrate philosophical-theoretical-methodological integrity and coherence in their scholarship, this paper represents critical realism and its fore-grounding of a deeply stratified ontology in reflexive relation to pragmatism and its back-grounding of ontology. We conclude by considering the merits and challenges of conducting research from within singular versus proliferate paradigmatic perspectives.