Postmodern Epistemology of Practice

Lindsay Oades (
5 Jun 1996 20:34:30 +1000

Hi to everyone,
especially those that have been following the recent discussion on
postmodernism. I have found the discussion as enlightening as I have

I am interested in postmodernism's implications for clinical psychological
practice. The two interesting articles I have found on this are Donald
Polkinghorne's "Postmodern epistemology of practice" in Kvale's (1992)
Psychology and Postmodernism- and Luis Botella's presentation in Barcelona
1995(excuse me as I can't place the reference).

Polkinghorne draws similarities between postmodernism and clinical practice.
To avoid "relativism" (which so many seem to wish to do, maybe me too)
Polkinghorne discusses neo-pragmatism as a criteria for assessing knowledge
claims. Botella also has discussed this. Other criteria which seem to come up
in discussion when trying to establish criteria for assessing knowledge claims
within constructivism (and possibly postmodernism) include coherence,viability
and utility.

Could someone help me elaborate basic definitions of the terms neo-pragmatism,
coherence, viability and utility before deconstructing anything I have

This leads me to the question- how can we assert that the practice of a
certain clinical approach is useful or helpful without recourse to a form of
realism? (Please note this is a genuine question rather than an implicit claim
or rhetoric).

Any thoughts or clarifications would be appreciated

Lindsay Oades