The scientific status of PCP

James Mancuso (
Fri, 14 Jun 1996 21:45:06 -0400 (EDT)

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Hello to the PCP Networkers:

Though I have had some difficulties rearranging my e-mail connections, I have had two recent posting brought to
my attention. I take the liberty to comment. One of the
postings was prepared [I gather] by Brian Gaines, the other
by Gary Blanchard.
Gary discussed his distinctions between a religious
system and a scientific system. He then leaves the
suggestion that PCP, A system, leaves him "with the
tentative conclusion that they [corollaries, etc.] are not
scientifically based.
Gary does indicate that "science DENOTES a style of
human operation in which the human seeks to account for the
nature of someone or something," etc. etc. In making this
careful statement, Gary does see science as a human
enterprise, and he does indicate that the term _science_
DENOTES something. From this, I gather, he could proceed to
agree that the DENOTING process involves human agreement
about the what process is to be referenced when one uses the
sign _science_. I would press from there to ask for
agreement, then, that we are creating a social construction
which will be _signified_ by the term _science_. In effect,
then, we are elaborating a process by which we shall seek
agreement on out claims.
Gary's text, however, suggests that he might find it
difficult to move as far into this position as I would. He
uses, for example, the terms _the NATURE of someone, or
something_ and _non-self-delusional_. His use of these
terms prompts me to ask whether or not he would believe that
it is eventually possible to gain access to _the nature_ of
something. In other terms, I would need to ask him if he
begins our enterprise with the assumption that humans can
access a "prenarrative world." By this, I intend to seek
agreement about whether we can develop a ultimate test of
"what is really out there." When a person speaks of
striving for an _non-self-delusional_ process, does that
person expect that there will be a test of what one takes to
be _self-delusional_ and what one takes to be _non-self-delusional_? And, more broadly, what are the differences
between the process of developing a construction which one
might call _delusional_ and the processes of developing a
construction which one might wish to call _non-delusional_?

To return to Gary's concerns, I would like to offer some
comments that might add to Brian's incisive and cogent
From a, to me, appropriate position concerning the
processes to be used in gaining socially shared
constructions/narratives, I would claim that Kelly's
fundamental postulate and the corollaries which Kelly
offered to elaborate his system deserve social warrant. In
the late 1960's the students in my graduate personality
course challenged me to demonstrate that the propositions in
PCP do deserve warrant. Though no researcher had
successfully created a singular demonstration aimed
specifically at gaining social warrant for each of the
propositions, there did exist, I was convinced, an ample set
of demonstrations of the utility of accepting each of the
propositions. And that was before the tremendous burst of
activity which has produced many, many demonstrations of the
utility of constructivist principles. Our efforts to
assemble examples of demonstrations that could be used to
coax social warrant from our colleagues and peers are on
record. Those demonstrations have been elaborated
extensively, allowing me to believe that if someone engaged
in the same effort today, he/she would find even more useful
Please note that I intend to refer to a process of
drawing up demonstrations that will gain social warrant for
a particular set of stories which we can then use to discuss
the "intentional stance" which we impute to others [Brian's
citation of Dennett]. In no way do I intend to speak of
separating _delusion_ from _non-delusion_?