chapter  4
21 Pages

Development and the Dialectic: The Need for a Systems Approach

The growth of developmental psychology has been accompanied by an increasing uneasiness. This discomfort is centered on the limitations of most current conceptual frameworks for dealing with change and transformation. Early studies had been embedded in a speculative context made possible by a lack of empirical data. The behaviorist tradition acted as a corrective to such speculations by developing an operationalism that accepted as data only consensually validated relationships between observable phenomena. This corrective, however, included an egocentrism that argued that philosophical debates over the nature of science were irrelevant; the facts would speak for themselves. This position could be maintained as long as facts and their interrelationships could be considered to exist independently of the scientific lens through which they are viewed. However, this positivism was antithetical to a discipline that took as its subject matter, development (i.e., the manner in which facts and their interrelations change over time).