By "Postmodernism," we mean "a way of understanding and conceptualizing that
forms a radical break with modernism," one "not commensurable with the Enlightenment
See Harper and Stein ( 1995b) for a discussion of weaknesses in this critique.
Critical Theorists following Habermas ( 1984) are not postmodernists in the sense we
are using the term.
See Stein and Harper ( 1996) for a discussion of the problems arising from radical
Foucault need not be taken as providing a universalist account. His genealogies can
be regarded as completely contextual. Then they're very similar to our view.
The term "reflective equilibrium" seems to have originated with Goodman ( 1965). Rawls ( 1971) brought it into ethical discourse; Rawls ( 1974) first distinguished "wide" and
"narrow" equilibria; Daniels ( 1985) popularized the term "wide reflective equilibrium" to
distinguish it from the narrow reflective equilibrium of ethical intuitionists (
This definition is adapted from Daniels ( 1985).
A "WRE" is a state where all the elements outlined are in coherence; a "WRE
process" is a process of seeking to move toward such a state.
We have added "scientistic" for clarification.
However, these notions are no longer viewed as foundational absolutes.
Neo-pragmatists reject the scheme/content distinction: the notion that one conceptual
scheme (account) is better or truer or "closer to reality" than another.
It is very problematic whether a government authority (particularly one providing
financial support) can ever be seen as noncoercive by nondominant cultures.
If advocates of WRE make this claim (which they seem to come very close to), then
they have slipped into a new form of foundationalism.
As we have argued elsewhere ( 1995b), we should retain the liberal, and discard the
scientistic, aspects of the enlightenment.
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Goodman N. Fact, Fiction and Forecast, 2nd ed. New York: Bobbs-Merrill. 1965.
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