Fri, 25 Nov 1994 01:12:00 PST

Ford writes:

"Such beliefs are social reality that form and inform various people. PM,
thankfully, acknowledge that there are multiple worlds out there. To
subscribe to one theory - one way - one answer - is just as spurious as
insisting that PM is anything one could want it to be. At least PM has the
couarge to question the hegemonic control of information."

If by this is simply meant (A) that when we consider the culturally
constructed realities that peoples have, we find not a single reality but
multiple realities, then there there is nothing to quarrel about. Clearly,
there are multiple, culturally constructed realities. If, however, by this
is meant (B) that in some sense all of these have equal claim to constituting
a representation of reality (that is, the reality that exists regradless of
our perceptionsof it)--i.e., can be subjected to empirical test for
consistency with respect to agreed upon observations--then equally clearly it
is false.

Who subscribes to "one theory?" Or, first, what is meant here by "one
theory?" Science is not a "theory," but an agreed upon set of principles
for constructing an account of "external reality." Those who reject
evolution in favor of creation are not "cranks" but individuals who reject
(implicitly, if not explicitly) that set of principles as the basis for
constructing an account of lifeforms on planet earth. A creationist can
easily construct a non-falsifiable theory that lays evolution to rest: God
created life on earth as described in Genesis, but in such a manner that when
"scientific observations" are made about life forms it will APPEAR as
if there is a natural process, evolution, whereby there has been change
leading from initial life forms to those life forms present today. Either
you accept such a claim or you don't. If you do, then scientific discourse
is meaningless. If you don't, and assume that phenomena are structured by
processes that are knowable to human intellect, then scientific discourse
makes sense. Within scientific discourse, there is only "one theory" to the
extent that there is common agreement that the said theory has no evidence to
its contrary; e.g., f = ma (force = mass x acceleation) is a fundamental law
of physics by virture of (a) no evidence that it fails to be true and (b) its
role in accounting for a wide range of phenomena that logically follow from
this law. If person X can make observations replicable by others that
contradict this "law," then at such a point what is now "one theory" will be
become more than one theory as various proposals are made to account for the
disconforming evidence.

But I take it that his is probably not the kind of "multiple theories" Ford
has in mind. Rather, it would seem that by "multiple theories" is meant
something more like multiple "constructed realities" as different theories
about external reality. If this is the case there are two problems. First,
the cultural construction of reality proceeds not for the purpose of
"objective" representation of an external reality--and indeed, consistency of
the "constructed reality" with the external world is probably of less
importance than the way in which the "constructed reality" provides a
"universe" within which social action takes place. Second, mutually
constradictory accounts of a single phenomena--the reality which exists
"outside" of us--cannot simultaneously be valid.

Finally, science does not constitute an attempt at a "hegemonic control of
information." Rather, external reality is the source for "hegemonic control
of information;" i.e., the account must be consistent with demonstrable,
replicable empirical observations. It is only when one wants to insist that
all culturally constructed realities are equally legitimate representations
of that single external reality--despite the fact that these representations
do not exist for the purpose of being accurate representations of external
reality--that the illusion of science constituting "hegemonic control of
information" arisees.