Volume 13 · Number 2 · Pages 191–198
Towards a Dialogue Among Constructivist Research Programs

Gastón Becerra & José Antonio Castorina

Download the full text in
PDF (980 kB)

> Citation > Similar > References > Add Comment


Context: Constructivist epistemology is not a doctrinal set of clear and consistent theses and assumptions but a movement full of tensions, with minimally integrated lines of discussions. Problem: This situation explains why it is so difficult to come up with a general definition of constructivist epistemology that could serve as a starting point to study its several research programs systematically and comparatively. Method: We compare the constructivist epistemologies of Jean Piaget, Ernst von Glasersfeld, Humberto Maturana, and Niklas Luhmann regarding tensions between knowledge/reality and individual/society. Results: Our comparison leads to a general definition of constructivist epistemology as a heterogeneous movement problematizing certain dualities - such as subject/object, knowledge/reality, or individual/society - that have been shown to be central for epistemological inquiry. We argue that such dualisms can be used as dimensions for critical analysis, comparison, and discussion among the different research programs, and that, at the same time, they would allow us to analyze the general strategies characterizing such programs. The comparative and critical analysis of the programs by way of the aforementioned tensions results in an organized presentation highlighting their convergences, divergences, and singularities.


Becerra G. & Castorina J. A. (2018) Towards a dialogue among constructivist research programs. Constructivist Foundations 13(2): 191–198. http://constructivist.info/13/2/191

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)


Becerra G. & Castorina J. A. (2016) Acerca de la noción de “marco epistémico” del constructivismo: Una comparación con la noción de “paradigma” de Kuhn [About the constructivist notion of “epistemic framework”: A comparison with Kuhn’s “paradigm” notion]. Revista iberoamericana de ciencia, tecnologia y sociedad 11(31): 9–28. http://cepa.info/4530
Becerra G. & Castorina J. A. (2016) Una mirada social y política de la ciencia en la epistemología constructivista de Rolando García [A socio-political view of the science in Rolando García’s constructivist epistemology]. Ciencia, docencia y tecnología 27(52): 329–350. http://cepa.info/4531
Becerra G. (2014) El “constructivismo operativo” de Luhmann. Una caracterización relacional con el constructivismo de inspiración piagetiana y el constructivismo radical. Enfoques 26(2): 29–54. http://cepa.info/4527
Becerra G. (2016) De la autopoiesis a la objetividad: La epistemología de Maturana en los debates constructivistas [From autopoiesis to objectivity: Maturana’s epistemology within the constructivist debates]. Opción, Revista de ciencias humanas y sociales 32(80): 66–87. http://cepa.info/4528
Becerra G. (2016) Los usos del constructivismo en las publicaciones científicas de Latinoamérica [Uses of constructivism among Latin-American scientific publications]. Mad 35: 38–59. http://cepa.info/4529
Berger P. & Luckmann T. (1966) The social construction of reality. Penguin, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bloor D. (1991) Knowledge and social imagery. The University of Chicago, Chicago. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Boom J. (2009) Piaget on equilibration. In: Müller U., Carpendale J. I. M. & Smith L. (eds.) The Cambridge companion to Piaget. Cambridge University Press, New York: 132–149. http://cepa.info/4533
Boyd R. (1992) Constructivism, realism and philosophical method. In: Earman J. (ed.) Inference, explanation and other frustrations. University of California Press, Berkeley CA: 131–98. http://cepa.info/3872
Bringuier J. C. (1977) Conversations with Piaget. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Cadenas H. & Arnold M. (2015) The autopoiesis of social systems and its criticism. Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 169–176. http://constructivist.info/10/2/169
Castorina J. A. & Baquero R. (2005) Dialéctica y psicología del desarrollo. El pensamiento de Piaget y Vigotsky. Amorrortu Editores, Buenos Aires. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Castorina J. A. (2003) Las epistemologías constructivistas ante el desafío de los saberes disciplinares [Constructivist epistemologies in front of disciplinary knowledge challenges]. Psykhe 12(2): 15–28. http://cepa.info/4532
Castorina J. A. (2009) El constructivismo de inspiración piagetiana y el constructivismo radical: Un análisis crítico. In: Narciandi J. C. L., Criado T. S. & Gómez D. L. (eds.) ¿Dónde reside la acción? agencia, constructivismo y psicología. Universidad de Murcia, Murcia: 91–116. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Castorina J. A. (2010) La dialéctica en la psicologia del desarrollo: Relevancia y significación en la investigación. Psicologia: Reflexao e Critica 23(3): 516–524. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Castorina J. A. (2014) La explicación para las novedades del desarrollo psicológico y su relación con las metateorías. In: Talak A. (ed.) La explicación en psicología. Prometeo, Buenos Aires: 57–76. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Chapman M. (1988) Contextuality and directionality of cognitive development. Human Development 31: 92–106. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Chapman M. (1992) Equilibration and the dialectics of organization. In: Beilin H. & Pufall P. (eds.) Piaget’s theory: Prospects and possibilities. Psychology Press, Hove: 39–59. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Christis J. (2001) Luhmann’s theory of knowledge: Beyond realism and constructivism? Soziale Systeme 7: 328–349. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Clam J. (2000) System’s sole constituent, the Operation: Clarifying a central concept of Luhmannian theory. Acta Sociologica 43(1): 63–79. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Coll C. (1996) Constructivismo y educación escolar: Ni hablamos siempre de lo mismo ni lo hacemos siempre desde la misma perspectiva epistemológica. Anuario de Psicología 69: 153–78. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Delval J. (2001) Hoy todos son constructivistas. Educere 5(15): 353–359. http://www.redalyc.org/html/356/35651520/
Devitt M. (1996) Realism and truth. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Di Paolo E. A. (2008) A mind of many. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 89–91. http://constructivist.info/3/2/089
Foerster H. von. (2003) Understanding understanding: Essays on cybernetics and cognition. Springer, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Francis D. (2005) Using Wittgenstein to respecify constructivism. Human Studies 28(3): 251–290. http://cepa.info/2932
Fuchs C. (2008) Sociology, dynamic critical realism, and radical constructivism. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 97–99. http://constructivist.info/3/2/097
Fuller S. (1998) The reflexive politics of constructivism revisited. In: Velody I. & Williams R. (eds.) The politics of constructionism. Sage, London: 83–99. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
García R. (1999) A systemic interpretation of Piaget’s theory of knowledge. In: Scholnick E. K., Nelson C., Gerlman S. & Miller P. (eds.) Conceptual development: Piaget’s legacy (Jean Piaget Symposia Series). Psychology Press, Hove: 165–184. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
García R. (2000) El conocimiento en construcción: De las formulaciones de Jean Piaget a la teoría de sistemas complejos. Gedisa, Barcelona. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Glasersfeld E. von (1990) An exposition of constructivism: Why some like it radical. In: Davis R. B., Maher C. A. & Noddings N. (eds.) Constructivist views on the teaching and learning of mathematics. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Reston VA: 19–29. http://cepa.info/1415
Glasersfeld E. von (1991) Knowing without metaphysics: Aspects of the radical constructivist position. In: F. Steier (ed.) Research and reflexivity. Sage, London: 12–29. http://cepa.info/1420
Glasersfeld E. von (1992) Questions and answers about radical constructivism. In: Pearsall M. K. (ed.) Scope, sequence, and coordination of secondary school science, Vol. II: Relevant research. The National Science Teachers Association, Washington: 169–182. http://cepa.info/1439
Glasersfeld E. von (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. Routledge, New York. http://cepa.info/1462
Glasersfeld E. von (1999) How do we mean? A constructivist sketch of semantics. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 6(1): 9–16. http://cepa.info/1503
Glasersfeld E. von (2001) The radical constructivist view of science. Foundations of Science 6(1): 31–43. http://cepa.info/1536
Glasersfeld E. von (2008) Who conceives of society? Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 59–64. http://constructivist.info/3/2/059
Hacking I. (1983) Representing and intervening. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Hacking I. (1999) The social construction of what? Harvard University Press, Massachusetts. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Holstein J. & Gubrium J. (2008) Handbook of constructionist research. The Guilford Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Inhelder B., García R. & Voneche J. (1981) Jean Piaget: Epistemología genética y equilibración. Fundamentos, Madrid. Originally published as: Inhelder B., García R. & Voneche J. (1977) Épistémologie génétique et équilibration: Hommage à Jean Piaget. Delachaux & Niestlé, Neuchâtel. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kant I. (1998) Critique of pure reason. Edited and translated by Guyer P. & Wood A. W. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. German original published in 1781 and 1787. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kenny V. (2007) Distinguishing Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism from Humberto Maturana’s “radical realism.” Constructivist Foundations 2(2–3): 58–64. http://constructivist.info/2/2–3/058
Kitchener R. F. (1986) Piaget’s theory of knowledge: Genetic epistemology and scientific reason. Yale University, New Haven CT. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kitchener R. F. (1987) Genetic epistemology, equilibration and the rationality of scientific change. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 18(3): 339–366. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kitcher P. (2001) Real realism: The Galilean strategy. The Philosophical Review 110(2): 151–197. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Knorr-Cetina K. (1989) Spielarten des Konstruktivismus: Einige Notizen und Anmerkungen. Soziale Welt 40(1/2): 86–96. http://cepa.info/2776
Knorr-Cetina K. (2005) La fabricación del conocimiento. Un ensayo sobre el caracter constructivista y contextual de la ciencia. Bernal: Universidad Nacional de Quilmes. Originally published as: Knorr-Cetina K. (1981) The manufacture of knowledge. Pergamon, Oxford. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kuhn T. S. (1970) The structure of scientific revolutions. Second edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge MA. Originally published in 1962. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kukla A. (1998) Studies in scientific realism. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kukla A. (2000) Social constructivism and the philosophy of science. Routledge, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Latour B. & Woolgar S. (1986) Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Luhmann N. (1990) The cognitive program of constructivism and a reality that remains unknown. In: Krohn W., Küppers G. & Nowotny H. (eds.) Selforganization: Portrait of a scientific revolution. Springer, Dordrecht: 64–86. http://cepa.info/2712
Luhmann N. (1991) Soziale Systeme. Grundriss einer allgemeinen Theorie. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Luhmann N. (1997) La ciencia de la sociedad. Anthropos, México. Originally published as: Luhmann N. (1990) Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Luhmann N. (2006) Cognition as construction. In: Moeller H.-G. (ed.) Luhmann explained: From souls to systems. Open Court, New York: 241–260. http://cepa.info/4526
Luhmann N. (2006) System as difference. Organization 13(1): 37–57. http://cepa.info/2735
Lynch M. (1998) Towards a constructivist genealogy of social constructivism. In: Velody I. & Williams R. (eds.) The politics of constructionism. Sage, London: 1–18. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maffia D. (2005) Conocimiento y emoción. Arbor 181(716): 515–521. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Martí E. (1996) El constructivismo y sus sombras. Anuario de Psicología 68: 3–10. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Matthews M. R. (2014) Radical constructivism: Ernst von Glasersfeld. In: Phillips D. C. (ed.) Encyclopedia of educational theory and philosophy. Sage, New York: 690–693. http://cepa.info/4525
Maturana H. R. & Poerksen B. (2004) Del ser al hacer: Los orígenes de la biología del conocer. J. C. Suarez, Santiago de Chile. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maturana H. R. & Poerksen B. (2007) Autopoiesis and social theory. Journal of Sociocybernetics 5(1/2): 68–73. http://cepa.info/716
Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (1994) De máquinas y seres vivos. Autopoiesis: La organización de lo vivo. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago de Chile. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maturana H. R. (1980) Biology of cognition. In: H. Maturana & F. Varela (eds.) Autopoiesis and cognition. The realization of the living. Reidel, Dordrecht: 5–58. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maturana H. R. (1988) Ontology of observing: The biological foundations of self-consciousness and the physical domain of existence. In: Conference proceedings of the American Society of Cybernetics, Felton CA. http://cepa.info/597
Maturana H. R. (1995) La realidad: ¿objetiva o construida? I: Fundamentos biológicos de la realidad. Anthropos, México. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maturana H. R. (1997) La objetividad: Un argumento para obligar. Dolmen, Santiago de Chile. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maturana H. R. (2015) What is sociology? Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 176–179. http://constructivist.info/10/2/176
Matuszek K. C. (2015) Ontology, reality and construction in Niklas Luhmann’s Theory. Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 203–210. http://constructivist.info/10/2/203
McDermid D. (1998) Pragmatism and truth: The comparison objection to correspondence. The Review of Metaphysics 51(4): 775–811. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Mitterer J. (2008) (Radical) constructivism – What difference does it make? Constructivist Foundations 3(3): 160–163. http://constructivist.info/3/3/160
Moeller H.-G. (2012) The radical Luhmann. Columbia University Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Müller K. H. (2008) The missing links of radical constructivism. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 78–79. http://constructivist.info/3/2/078
Nicolis G. & Prigogine I. (1977) Self-organization in non-equilibrium systems. John Wiley & Sons, Toronto. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Nola R. & Irzik G. (2005) Philosophy, science, education and culture. Springer, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Overton W. F. (1994) Contexts of meaning: The computational and the embodied mind. In: Overton W. F. & Palermo D. S. (eds.) The nature and ontogenesis of meaning. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah NJ: 1–18. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Overton W. F. (2006) Developmental psychology: Philosophy, concepts, methodology. In: Damon W. & Lerner R. M. (eds.) Handbook of child psychology. Volume 1: Theoretical models of human development. Wiley, New York: 18–88. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Phillips D. C. (1995) The good, the bad, and the ugly: The many faces of constructivism. Educational Researcher 24(7): 5–12. http://cepa.info/2963
Phillips D. C. (1997) Coming to grips with radical social constructivisms. In: Matthews M. (ed.) Constructivism in science education. Springer, Dordrecht: 139–158. http://cepa.info/3031
Piaget J. & García R. (1982) Psicogenesis e historia de la ciencia. Siglo XXI, Mexico. English translation: Piaget J. & García R. (1989) Psychogenesis and history of science. Columbia, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Piaget J. (1970) Genetic epistemology. The Norton Library, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Piaget J. (1970) Lógica y conocimiento científico. Vol. 1: Naturaleza y métodos de la epistemología. Proteo, Buenos Aires. Originally published as: Piaget J. (1967) Logique et connaissance scientifique. Nature et méthodes de l’Epistémologie. Gallimand, Paris. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Piaget J. (1975) Introducción a la epistemología genética. Volume 1: El pensamiento matemático. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Originally published as: Piaget J. (1952) Introduction à l’épistémologie génétique: La pensée mathématique. PUF, Paris. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Piaget J. (1986) Estudios sociológicos. Planeta DeAgostini, Barcelona. Originally published as: Piaget J. (1965) Études sociologiques. Droz, Geneva. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Piaget J. (ed.) (1979) Lógica y conocimiento científico. Volume 7: Clasificación de las ciencias y principales corrientes de la epistemología contemporanea. Paidós, Buenos Aires. Originally published as: Piaget J. (ed.) (1967) Logique et connaissance scientifique. Gallimand, Paris: 1147–1271. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Psillos S. (1999) Scientific realism. How science tracks truth. Routledge, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Psillos S. (2005) Is structural realism the best of both worlds? Dialectica 49(1): 15–46. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Quine W. V. O. (1961) From a logical point of view. Harvard University Press, Harvard MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Restivo S. (2008) Society, social construction, and the sociological imagination. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 94–96. http://constructivist.info/3/2/094
Riegler A. (2001) Towards a radical constructivist understanding of science. Foundations of Science 6(1–3): 1–30. http://cepa.info/1860
Riegler A. (2005) The constructivist challenge. Constructivist Foundations 1(1): 1–8. http://constructivist.info/1/1/001
Riegler A. (2012) Constructivism. In: L’Abate L. (ed.) Paradigms in theory construction. Springer, New York: 235–255. http://cepa.info/446
Sandoval Moya J. (2010) Construccionismo, conocimiento y realidad: Una lectura crítica desde la Psicología Social. Revista Mad (23): 31–37. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Schmidt S. J. (2010) Radical constructivism: A tool, not a super theory! Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 6–11. http://constructivist.info/6/1/006
Schmidt S. J. (2011) From objects to processes: A proposal to rewrite radical constructivism. Constructivist Foundations 7(1) http://constructivist.info/7/1/001
Scholl A. (2012) Between realism and constructivism? Luhmann’s ambivalent epistemological standpoint. Constructivist Foundations 8(1): 5–18. http://constructivist.info/8/1/005
Sismondo S. (1993) Some social constructions. Social Studies of Science 23: 515–553. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Tsou J. Y. (2006) Genetic epistemology and Piaget’s philosophy of science: Piaget vs. Kuhn on scientific progress. Theory & Psychology 16(2): 203–224. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. J. (1990) Conocer: Las ciencias cognitivas: Tendencias y perspectivas. Cartografía de las ideas actuales. Gedisa, Barcelona. Originally published as: Varela F. J. (1988) Connaître: Les sciences cognitives: Tendances et perspectives. Le Seuil, Paris. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Worrall J. (1989) Structural realism: The best of both worlds? Dialectica 43(1–2): 99–124. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar

Comments: 0

To stay informed about comments to this publication and post comments yourself, please log in first.