The Ideal of Unity and the Practice of Pluralism in Systems Science

  • Gerald Midgley


A number of authors have written about a crisis in systems science. All through the 1980s, the systems community was riven by a paradigmatic war between “hard” and “soft” thinking, each of these paradigms taking a different line on methodology. A need was therefore identified for an open and conciliatory approach that could bring competing systems practitioners together (see, e.g., Jackson, 1987, and Flood, 1989).


System Science Disciplinary Science Rational Argumentation Disciplinary Boundary Soft System Methodology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bernstein, R. J. (1991). The new constellation. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bertalanffy, L. von. (1956). General systems theory. General Systems Yearbook, 1, 1–10.Google Scholar
  3. Bohm, D. (1980). Wholeness and the implicate order. London: Ark.Google Scholar
  4. Bohr, N. (1963). Essays 1958/1962 on atomic physics and human knowledge. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  5. Bruscaglioni, M. (1982). II comportamento organizzativo. In M. Bruscaglioni & E. Spaltro (Eds.), La psicologia organizzativa. Milan: Angeli.Google Scholar
  6. Burrell, G., & Morgan, G. (1979). Sociological paradigms and organizational analysis. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  7. De Masi, D. (1987). L’avvento post-industriale. Milan: Francoangeli.Google Scholar
  8. Eden, C., Jones, S., & Sims, D. (1983). Messing about in problems. Oxford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  9. Einstein, A. (1934). The world as I see it. New York: Coviei Friede.Google Scholar
  10. Flood, R. L. (1989). Six scenarios for the future of systems problem solving. Systems Practice, 2, 75–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Flood, R. L. (1990). Liberating systems theory. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  12. Flood, R. L. (1995). Solving problem solving. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Francescato, D. (1992). A multi-dimensional perspective of organizational change. Systems Practice, 5, 129–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gergen, K. J. (1991). The saturated self: Dilemmas of identity in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Giddens, A. (1985). Reason without revolution? Habermas’s theorie des kommunikativen handelns. In R. J. Bernstein (Ed.), Habermas and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  16. Habermas, J. (1976). Communication and the evolution of society (English ed. 1979). London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  17. Habermas, J. (1984a). The theory of communicative action: Vol. one. Reason and the rationalisation of society. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  18. Habermas, J. (1984b). The theory of communicative action: Vol. two. The critique of functionalist reason. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  19. Harré, R., & Gillett, G. (1994). The discursive mind. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Hetherington, J., Daniel, T. C., & Brown, T. C. (1994). Anything goes means eveything stays: The perils of uncritical pluralism in the study of ecosystem values. Society and Natural Resources, 7, 535–546.Google Scholar
  21. Hollway, W. (1989). Subjectivity and method in psychology: Gender, meaning and science. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Jackson, M. C. (1982). The nature of soft systems thinking: The work of Churchman, Ackoff and Checkland. Journal of Applied Systems Analysis, 9, 17–29.Google Scholar
  23. Jackson, M. C. (1987). Present positions and future prospects in management science. Omega, 15, 455–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jackson, M. C., & Keys, P. (1984). Towards a system of systems methodologies. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 35, 473–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jackson, N., & Carter, P. (1991). In defence of paradigm incommensurability. Organization Studies, 12, 109–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kelly, G. A. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs: Volume one. A theory of personality. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  27. Kim, H. S. (1993). Identifying alternative linkages among philosophy, theory and method in nursing science. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 18, 793–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Midgley, G. (1992). Pluralism and the legitimation of systems science. Systems Practice, 5, 147–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mingers, J. (1980). Towards an appropriate social theory for applied systems thinking: Critical theory and soft systems methodology. Journal of Applied Systems Analysis, 7, 41–50.Google Scholar
  31. Northrop, F. S. C. (1967). The method and theories of physical science and their bearing upon biological organization. In R. W. Marks (Ed.), Great ideas in modern science. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  32. Popper, K. R. (1959). The logic of scientific discover’. Originally published as Logik de forschung, 1935. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  33. Popper, K. R. (1972). Objective knowledge. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Prigogine, I. (1989). The rediscovery of time: Science in a world of limited predictability. Beshara, No. 9, 28–32.Google Scholar
  35. Reed, M. (1985). Redirections in organizational analysis. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  36. Sechrest, L., & Sidani, S. (1995). Quantitative and qualitative methods: Is there an alternative? Evaluation and Program Planning, 18, 77–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shotter, J. (1993). Conversational realities: Constructing life through language. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. Singh, H. (1993). Challenges in researching corporate restructuring. Journal of Management Studies, 30, 147–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wildemuth, B. M. (1993). Post-positivist research: Two examples of methodological pluralism. Library Quarterly, 63, 450–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald Midgley
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesUniversity of HullHullEngland

Personalised recommendations