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Inferentialism as an alternative to socioconstructivism in mathematics education

Noorloos, Ruben, Taylor, Samuel D., Bakker, Arthur, Derry, Jan (2017) Inferentialism as an alternative to socioconstructivism in mathematics education. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 29 (4). pp. 437-453. ISSN 1033-2170. (doi:10.1007/s13394-017-0189-3) (KAR id:83213)

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The purpose of this article is to draw the attention of mathematics education researchers to a relatively new semantic theory called inferentialism, as developed by the philosopher Robert Brandom. Inferentialism is a semantic theory which explains concept formation in terms of the inferences individuals make in the context of an intersubjective practice of acknowledging, attributing, and challenging one another’s commitments. The article argues that inferentialism can help to overcome certain problems that have plagued the various forms of constructivism, and socioconstructivism in particular. Despite the range of socioconstructivist positions on offer, there is reason to think that versions of these problems will continue to haunt socioconstructivism. The problems are that socioconstructivists (i) have not come to a satisfactory resolution of the social-individual dichotomy, (ii) are still threatened by relativism, and (iii) have been vague in their characterization of what construction is. We first present these problems; then we introduce inferentialism, and finally we show how inferentialism can help to overcome the problems. We argue that inferentialism (i) contains a powerful conception of norms that can overcome the social-individual dichotomy, (ii) draws attention to the reality that constrains our inferences, and (iii) develops a clearer conception of learning in terms of the mastering of webs of reasons. Inferentialism therefore represents a powerful alternative theoretical framework to socioconstructivism.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s13394-017-0189-3
Uncontrolled keywords: Inferentialism, Socioconstructivism, Mathematics education, Constructivism, Theories of learning
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Samuel Taylor
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2020 08:28 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:15 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Taylor, Samuel D.:
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