By Arthur W. Staats, Leendert P. Mos
Facing the subject of Unification in Psychology.
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Extra info for Annals of Theoretical Psychology (Volume 5)
Logical positivism attempted to understand science by studying its most advanced fields. The idea was to use these advanced developments as the model for the rest of science, to hold up the model as the standard. But that implicit methodology did not provide a basis for the historical and comparative 1 • Unified Positivism: Philosophy for the Revolution to Unity 29 studies that are needed for an understanding of how science really does develop. Unified positivism says, in contrast, that the "model" strategy is incorrect.
We can see such methodological divisions in psychology even within the same field of study. For example, Skinner differentiated his approach from other learning theorists in good part by his use of singleorganism research methods. Rather than using groups of animals, each exposed to different conditions, he applied the different conditions to the same animal and directly observed the behavior changes that resulted. His methods were eschewed by those using traditional group designs and statistical analysis of the average performance of the animals employed.
Moreover, since the promise of behaviorism to provide a continuing avenue of development for the whole of psychology had not come to pass, the natural science model of psychology embodied in this approach also came under chalIenge, as did the emphaSiS upon observation and 1 • Unified Positivism: Philosophy for the Revolution to Unity 25 operational definition that was entailed in the theoretical position (see Weimer, 1979). Van Hoorn (1972), for example, has said that psychology is not a natural science but an interpretive science in the hermeneutic mold.