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Reflective practice in general, and the views of Carr and Kemmis on ‘action research’ in particular, have become the settled orthodoxy of much educational thinking, but can they take the load that they are being asked to bear? An analysis of ‘reflection’ is offered, which reveals what can be achieved by the operation and what cannot. This is then used to assess the coherence of Kemmis's views on the concept—the basis of Carr and Kemmis's widely-cited theoretical proposals, which they use to justify their approach to action research. I then turn to an examination of the adequacy of these proposals themselves.