Should constructivist research engage empirical debates with other approaches, especially non-constructivists? Recent calls for ‘eclectic’ and ‘pluralistic’ scholarship seem to encourage engagement, including across epistemological divides many constructivists have long perceived with non-constructivists. Yet this literature downplays competition between approaches, instead emphasizing that they answer different parts of questions. In seeming to evoke a division of labor, the eclectic turn actually strengthens a sense that approaches occupy distinct spaces. This article offers a sympathetic corrective to the eclectic turn, and to common accounts of older epistemological divides. Before eclectic combinations, empirical work necessarily begins from contrasting accounts on the same terrain. Only a naïve positivist imagines that meaningful scholarship tests solitary hypotheses against reality. Today’s scholars vary in how far they move toward more socially based epistemologies, with constructivists moving furthest – and the further we move, the more the shape and significance of our accounts depends on contrasts to others. Thus, all scholars should seek out competing alternatives, especially constructivists. After making this point, the article unpacks how it has been obscured by four arguments that limit competition between constructivist claims and alternatives, concerning constitutiveness, understanding, holistic methodology, and anti-foundationalism. Each view contains errors that can be corrected without undercutting the epistemological commitments of its proponents. This clears the way for introducing more competition into constructivism and into the eclectic turn more generally. All scholars, including all constructivists, working within their own epistemologies, will do their best work through contrasts to alternatives across our old divides.