Error and objectivity: cognitive illusions and qualitative research

Nursing Philosophy 6 (3):196-209 (2005)
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Psychological research has shown that cognitive illusions, of which visual illusions are just a special case, are systematic and pervasive, raising epistemological questions about how error in all forms of research can be identified and eliminated. The quantitative sciences make use of statistical techniques for this purpose, but it is not clear what the qualitative equivalent is, particularly in view of widespread scepticism about validity and objectivity. I argue that, in the light of cognitive psychology, the ‘error question’ cannot be dismissed as a positivist obsession, and that the concepts of truth and objectivity are unavoidable. However, they constitute only a ‘minimal realism’, which does not necessarily bring a commitment to ‘absolute’ truth, certainty, correspondence, causation, reductionism, or universal laws in its wake. The assumption that it does reflects a misreading of positivism and, ironically, precipitates a ‘crisis of legitimation and representation’, as described by constructivist authors.



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References found in this work

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Richard Rorty - 1979 - Princeton University Press.
The logic of scientific discovery.Karl Raimund Popper - 1934 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Hutchinson Publishing Group.

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