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  • Cited by 7
  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: September 2009

15 - Paradigms revisited: from incommensurability to respected complementarity


More than twenty years ago I applied Kuhn's (1970a) concept of paradigms to cross-cultural psychology (Eckensberger, 1979). This early paper was elaborated and extended at several later occasions (Eckensberger, 1995; Eckensberger and Burgard, 1983; Eckensberger and Keller, 1998; Eckensberger, Krewer and Kasper, 1984). In these contributions different paradigms in cross-cultural psychology were not just distinguished; rather cross-cultural psychology was explicitly used as a framework for the evaluation of existing paradigms in psychology in general. This earlier work addressed not only cross-cultural psychologists, but all psychologists – as does the present chapter.

After introducing some distinctions in philosophy of science to provide a basis for my position, discussion of the usefulness of paradigms and recent trends in psychology leads to the specification of four perspectives (paradigms). The elucidation of their interrelationships leads to my conclusion that cultural psychology appears to be a ‘metatheory’, and not just a sub-branch of psychology, and that the ethic of respected complementarity in psychology is essential for a more complete and differentiated understanding of human beings.

Introductory remarks on philosophy of science

Kuhn's approach: some comments

In psychology the term ‘paradigm’ has become a part of everyday language, since T. S.Kuhn (1970a) published his short but influential Structure of scientific revolutions.