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Epistemological pluralism is a term used in philosophy, economics, and virtually any field of study to refer to different ways of knowing things, different epistemological methodologies for attaining a full description of a particular field.[1] A particular form of epistemological pluralism is dualism, for example, the separation of methods for investigating mind from those appropriate to matter (see mind-body problem and subject-object problem). By contrast, monism is the restriction to a single approach, for example, reductionism, which asserts the study of all phenomena can be seen as finding relations to some few basic entities.[2]

In psychology it is the view that many phenomena need to be approached from the point of view of the main approaches (biological psychology,evolutionary psychology,social psychology etc) so as to provide a rounded account of them, rather than just relying on one perspective.

Epistemological pluralism is to be distinguished from ontological pluralism, the study of different modes of being, for example, the contrast in the mode of existence exhibited by 'numbers' with that of 'people' or 'cars'.[3][4]

In the philosophy of science epistemological pluralism arose in opposition to reductionism to express the contrary view that at least some natural phenomena cannot be fully explained by a single theory or fully investigated using a single approach.[1][5][6]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stephen H Kellert, Helen E Longino, C Kenneth Waters (2006). "Introduction: The pluralist stance" Scientific pluralism; volume XIX in Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, The University of Minnesota Press.
  2. Jonathan Schaffer (2009)). "Chapter 12: On what grounds what" David Chalmers, David Manley, Ryan Wasserman, eds Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, 57-83, Oxford University Press. "Metaphysics so revived does not bother asking whether properties, meanings, and numbers exist. Of course they do! The question is whether or not they are fundamental."
  3. Martin Gardner. Science in the looking glass: What do scientists really know? (a book review). Notices of the American Mathematical Society.
  4. Joshua Spencer (November 12, 2012). Ways of being. Philosophy Compass 7 (12): 910–918.
  5. E Brian Davies (2006). Epistemological pluralism. Available through PhilSci Archive.
  6. There is ongoing controversy over the application of neuroscience to psychology. For example, Talvitie and Ihanus say: "As far as psychoanalytic explanations refer to the mental unconscious, they cannot be verified with the help of neuroscience. Neither is it possible to form a picture of how a neuro-viewpoint might be of help for psychoanalytic theorizing." On neuropsychoanalytic metaphysics. and Edleson: "It is also contended that the theories of psychoanalysis cannot be logically derivable from the theories of neuroscience, physics, or chemistry" The convergence of psychoanalysis and neuroscience: Illusion and reality.

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External linksEdit

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