Beyond the Interaction Paradigm? Radical Constructivism, Universal Pragmatics, and Peircean Pragmatism

Author: Bergman, Mats

Source: The Communication Review, 1 April 2011, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 96-122(27)


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In this article, the author examines Colin Grant's recent criticism of the so-called “interaction paradigm” and Jurgen Habermas's universal pragmatics. Grant's approach, which is presented as an open challenge to communication theories grounded in philosophical conceptions of communality and dialogue, can be construed as an exemplar of a radical constructivist approach to vital questions of contingency and incommensurability in communication studies. In response, the author outlines a classical pragmatist approach to the problem areas identified by Grant, with the aim of outlining how a pragmatist outlook can offer promising theoretical alternatives to universal pragmatics and radical constructivism. It is argued that moderate Peircean pragmatism, appropriately interpreted, can provide a philosophical platform capable of addressing issues of contingency, uncertainty, and autonomy in communication theory without succumbing to incommensurabilism, traditional objectivism, or nominalistic individualism.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Social Research/Media and Communication Studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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