Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Do We Need to Know Philosophy?

A long time ago I remember enrolling in a few philosophy courses, covering Greek right up to social constructionism, I also tackled Foulcault's Birth of the Clinic and unsuccessfully read Derrida like every good liberal academic should but I am finding that many of my students aren't conversant in this field even though Psychology is essentially applied philosophy at it's core.

I would argue that clinicians need to understand basic philosophy is they are to learn more than technique and understand the paradigm and approach of the models they work by. See Burnham J. (1992). Approach - Method - Technique, Creating distinctions and creating connections. Human Systems , 3, 3-27 for more on this topic.

But what about researchers? Is there also a risk here that be are in danger of becoming technicians if we dont understand the epistomological basis of the methods we use? Can we simply pick from methods like a tool box? Is it possible to do a RCT one year and then a Discourse analysis piece of work the next? Can you do a mixed methods study employing methods from disparate epistomologies? 

Reminds me of a joke... "A scientist and his wife are out for a drive in the country. The wife says, 'Oh, look! Those sheep have been shorn.' "'Yes,' says the scientist. 'On this side.'" Get it?

Here's another philosophy joke"A blind man, a lesbian, and a frog walk into a bar. The barkeep looks up at them and says, 'What is this — a joke?'"

If you get these your safe!

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