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PCP and philosophy of science
The Position of PCP in the realm of philosophy of science is many faceted. Having the person-as-scientist as the model of person, it is assumed that PCP is heavily dependent on the scientific approach, which usually implies positions such as convergent realism, positivism and empiricism. However, Kelly is sometimes loose on the subject. Although heavily emphasizing scientific issues in his theory, he sees it differently to Comte’s positivism; he is emphatic that the world is real, yet he opposes the idea of PCP as a realist theory; even if strongly advocating the need for the testing of our constructions like in empiricism, those constructions are not seen as raw sensory data, but as artifacts of the human mind – like in rationalism. This is the outcome of Kelly’s avant-garde thinking which anticipated the state of the art of modern philosophy of science in which many important contemporary theories were developed after inclusion of PCP in the public domain.

Keeping this in mind,

(1) PCP can be seen as an example of relativist rather than realist theory (although not denying the existence of the world, it implies the necessity of the frame of reference – a construct system – in order to approach this existence which otherwise would not be intelligible);
(2) it is much more likely a form of relationism than essentialism (advocating an epistemological assumption of ontological primacy of relations over essence);
(3) it is aligned with the principles of participativist epistemology and is not a case of an objectivist approach to knowledge (claiming that a person is always the part of the picture (s)he perceives, coming to know the world not from its inherent properties, but from his constructs which necessarily mediate every act of knowledge) and
(4) it is congruent with the principles of potentialism rather than actualism (seeing the condition of human beings as an ever changing process, not as a structure with fixed properties that have to be discovered; therefore human beings do not have a given nature, but an endless potential of forming unlimited repertory of constructions which can be placed over people, changing their nature every time these constructs are changed).

Therefore, the science of person-as-scientist is much more germane with theories of contemporary physics, than with Newtonian approach.


Dušan Stojnov

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004