Quality & Quantity 34: 51–63, 2000.
© 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
What Kind of Dialogue Should
Senior Lecturer of Methodology and Theory of Science, University for Humanist Studies, PO Box
797, Utrecht, The Netherlands, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract. Paradigm-dialogues are important for several reasons. One reason is to clarify what kind
of paradigmatical aspects do have an effect on choosing a qualitative or quantitative research method.
To be successful a paradigm-dialogue should have informational quality, self-reﬂective quality, ar-
gumentative quality and communicative quality. The argumentative quality, however, should not be
of a persuasive or competitive nature because of the partial a-rationality of paradigms. Paradigm-
dialogues should be aimed at self-clariﬁcation, mutual understanding and sharing learning processes.
That is why communicative quality is important to protect and to promote argumentative quality
of a non-persuasive kind. Communicative quality should be understood in terms of striving for a
dialogical relationship which is characterized by interactivity, communicative symmetry, openness,
multiple hermeneutics, mutual trust and respect. Communicative symmetry is feasible and desirable.
An ironic attitude may be helpful.
Key words: argumentation, authenticity, communicative quality, dialogical relationship, irony,
mutual respect, openness, paradigm-dialogue, persuasiveness.
Paradigm-dialogues consist of conversations between researchers, scientists and
other scholars who have different paradigmatical engagements or preferences. The
participants in a paradigm-dialogue may have different motives to enter into such a
conversation: a scientiﬁc or philosophical desire to understand the nature of the dif-
ferences between paradigmatical approaches, a dissatisfaction with the unfruitful
practices of compartmentalizing and caricaturing which hinder scientiﬁc progress,
a longing for developing more embracing paradigms or approaches, a wish to cla-
rify to others, for instance policy-makers, decision-makers and subsidizers, what
the paradigmatic and pragmatic aspects of choosing a qualitative or quantitative
research method could be, etc.
To have successful conversations the participants in a paradigm-dialogue must
at least have some awareness of their own paradigmatical inclinations. This aware-
ness implies the acknowledgement that a paradigm is not only a belief system,
but also a disciplinary matrix (cf. Kuhn, 1970). As a belief system a paradigm
is a coherent whole of ontological, epistemological, methodological and axiolo-