By Arthur W. Staats, Leendert P. Mos
Facing the subject of Unification in Psychology.
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Additional resources for Annals of Theoretical Psychology (Volume 5)
The criticism of the logical positivist view of the nature of observations in science has been mounted as a vehicle for rejecting an objectivistic, observational, natural science approach to psychology. The present view of unified positivism is that such philosophical positions are detrimental in the manner in which they constitute a wholesale rejection of the view that psychology should be an experimental science with a general methodology like that of the natural sciences. In the present view, moreover, these critical approaches have not yet provided a philosophical foundation that indicates the directions psychology must take.
There is a one-to-one correspondence of the axioms where the theories overlap. Since the general theory is larger, it swallows the other. The less general theory is then no longer necessary. This process has been extended to the consideration of other sciences. For example, it has been said that chemistry will reduce to physics, biological science to chemistry, and behavioral science to biolOgical science. The implications here are repugnant to many behavioral scientists, the implication being that their science will disappear, taken over by more basic, and advanced formulations (see Staats, 1975, 1983a).
Unless integra tory work comes to be valued, one cannot expect psychologists to spend time in such endeavor. Let us look at these social conditions more closely. Sociologists of science have described the manner in which originality is the goal of the scientist and how this places scientists in competition with each other. Merton (1973) provides historical examples of disputed claims for discovery of important scientific phenomena. Examination of these historical descriptions suggests that there has been a marked change of practice within the unified sciences (Staats, 1983a).