Interaction or intersubjectivity? A reply to Lerman

Leslie P. Steffe, Patrick W. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Lerman, in his challenge to radical constructivism, presented Vygotsky as an irreconcilable opponent to Piaget's genetic epistemology and thus to von Glasersfeld's radical constructivism. We argue that Lerman's stance does not reflect von Glasersfeld's opinion of Vygotsky's work, nor does it reflect Vygotsky's opinion of Piaget's work. We question Lerman's interpretation of radical constructivism and explain how the ideas of interaction, intersubjectivity, and social goals make sense in it. We then establish compatibility between the analytic units in Vygotsky's and von Glasersfeld's models and contrast them with Lerman's analytic unit. Consequently, we question Lerman's interpretation of Vygotsky. Finally, we question Lerman's use of Vygotsky's work in mathematics education, and we contrast that use with how we use von Glasersfeld's radical constructivism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-209
Number of pages19
JournalJournal for Research in Mathematics Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Constructivism
  • Epistemology
  • Philosophical issues
  • Piaget
  • Social and cultural issues
  • Vygotsky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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