Psychology's Interpretive Turn: The Search for Truth and Agency in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology
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Is objective psychological truth possible? For over 25 years, postmodern theorists have argued for an antiobjectivist or antirealist philosophy, which they believe enhances our human agency by freeing us to be what we interpret ourselves to be. But in the last decade, a prominent and diverse group of theorists has voiced views that are replacing those of the "conventional" postmodernists. Their dual mission is to defend the realism denied by postmodern antirealist psychologists while defending the concept of human agency that they believe modern objectivist psychologists deny.
In Psychology's Interpretive Turn, author Barbara S. Held takes the discussion to a new level. She goes beyond defending the possibility of objective psychological truth by linking that defense to the possibility of human agency or freedom. She considers the nuanced arguments of theorists who reject the possibility of objective psychological truth to advance an agentic psychology that is nonetheless alleged to be realist. She is the first to relate the common ground in these "middle ground" theorists' attempts to reconcile, mediate, or moderate postmodern antirealist and modern objectivist approaches to psychology. She skillfully crafts the argument that any philosophy of psychology that in principle precludes the possibility of objective psychological knowledge and truth also undermines an agency founded on rational interpretive grounds. Her critique is especially timely, as concerns about psychology's fragmentation mount and attempts at unification proliferate.