Social Epistemology and its Politically Correct Words: Avoiding Absolutism, Relativism, Consensualism, and Vulgar Pragmatism
AbstractWhere social epistemology has been applied in environmental education research, certain words have come to be associated with it, such as, "social," "contextualized," "strategic," "political," "pragmatic," "democratic," and "participatory." In this paper, I first suggest interpretations of these words that potentially avoid absolutism, relativism, consensualism, and vulgar pragmatism. I then identify interpretations that succumb to these problems. To support my argument, I draw on Peircean scholars, critical realist scholars, and scholars who rely on a tranche of metaphor that evoke images of connections, partnerships, webs, and rhizomes. These writers suggest a social epistemology in which in which relationships, not objects, are primary.