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In this essay, the author explores how research in mathematics education is always already entangled with and in ontological, epistemological, and ethical considerations—that is, philosophical considerations—of the researcher from beginning to end. The danger in too much of the existing mathematics education research, however, is limited acknowledgement of how philosophical considerations drive both knowledge production and knowledge dissemination in the field. “Practical” definitions of ontology, epistemology, and ethics are provided as well as descriptions of how each concept is made sense of across the paradigms of inquiry spectrum: predict, understand, emancipate, and deconstruct. The author concludes the essay with a summative argument of where and how to begin engaging philosophical considerations and a brief discussion of an emerging paradigm of inquiry.


Originally published in:

Stinson, D. W. (2020). Scholars before researchers: Philosophical considerations in the preparation of mathematics education researchers. Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal, 36, 1–18. Retrieved from

(c) The Author.