Bradley, Gerald P.; Reynolds Jr, Robert R.
November 1970
American Sociologist;Nov70, Vol. 5 Issue 4, p345
Academic Journal
A thorough commentary on sociologist T.N. Ferdinand's article "On the Impossibility of a Complete, General Theory of Behavior," is difficult owing to the overall lack of specificity in Ferdinand's handling of the problem. Nevertheless, it is possible to understand the pivotal moments in his argument clearly enough to formulate specific and, sociologists feel, damaging criticisms of them. Ferdinand prefaces his argument for the impossibility of a general theory of behavior by admonishing social scientists that the generality of a theory depends upon its completeness. Although it is true, as sociologists have shown that the argument of his paper breaks down at certain critical junctures, they believe that there are more serious grounds for objecting to his position. Surely those who seek a general theory of human behavior are motivated by a desire for more effective explanation and prediction, by a desire, perhaps, to approximate the successes of the physical sciences. Whether or not one believes that a general theory of human behavior is feasible or desirable. It is clear that attacking the problem of cooperation between the behavioral sciences by transporting that problem to the abstruse plane of axiomatic is not a fruitful beginning. It is not only the content of Ferdinand's article that is discouraging but the form: the reader craves illustrations of his abstractions.


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