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Nomology, a decision science approach to structuring qualitative decisions, is used to show that the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) corresponds to a generic structure based on a Convincing process embedded within a Committing process, both of which were formalised originally by Kant as dialectical processes. The key decision issue in the SDLC is shown to be that of ownership of the process by the decision-maker. Consequently the decision when to move from one stage of development to the next should be determined ‘subjectively’ by the decision-maker or organisation. Comparing the SDLC with other similarly structured systems suggests that each stage of the SDLC is best implemented ‘objectively’ as an Adjusting process in which balance should be retained with regard to three issues, what should be done, where should it be done, and which way should it be done. Also, the generic nature of the structure suggests that practitioners could borrow from similar decision processes in other fields, including hierarchies of activities, types of thinking and Oriental philosophy.