Cognitive Relativism in Evaluation

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This article examines a group of defenses of qualitative evaluation methods that are based upon a hard relativistic interpretation of the work of Thomas Kuhn. Hard relativism holds that (1) truth is a function of framework, and (2) all frameworks are equally legitimate because they are only to be criticized on the basis of internal criteria. Soft relativism accepts the first point but denies the second. It is argued, following Karl Popper, that hard relativism is an indefensible position. A defense of qualitative evaluation based upon this position, therefore, will be equally shaky. Kuhn, however, is a soft—not a hard—relativist. Thus, a more promising defense of qualitive evaluation may be found in a soft-relativist interpretation of Kuhn's analysis of the nature of scientific discovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-280
Number of pages22
JournalEvaluation Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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