A new article has just been published in Qualitative Health Research by two authors from University of Toronto that people within the Critical Physiotherapy Network might know well. James Shaw and Ryan DeForge contributed to an edited collection on Philosophy and Physiotherapy that Barbara Gibson and I co-edited in August 2012 (full version available at the bottom of this post). Jay and Ryan’s new paper is titled ‘Qualitative Inquiry and the Debate Between Hermeneutics and Critical Theory’ and the abstract follows and you can link to the full details of the paper here:
Two issues have been central to ongoing disputes about judgments of quality in qualitative inquiry: (a) the ways in which paradigmatic orientations are understood to guide procedural decisions and (b) the meaning and intelligibility of paradigmatic incommensurability. In this article, we address these two key issues through an exploration of the debates between hermeneutics and critical social theory, including the exchanges between Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jurgen Habermas, and between Richard Rorty and Thomas McCarthy. We suggest that the key epistemological issue addressed in these debates is the nature of interpretation, separating the two philosophical camps based on beliefs about whether foundational knowledge is possible to achieve. We conclude the article by discussing the implications of these different positions for beliefs about quality in qualitative inquiry, and comment on the role of judgment in assessments of the value and quality of different approaches to qualitative research.
Keywords: critical methods, hermeneutics, interpretive methods, language / linguistics, research design, research evaluation