Psychology and the moral imperative

Isaac Prilleltensky, Richard Walsh-Bowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In this paper, the authors examine the moral obligations of psychology. An inquiry into the main priorities of academic and professional psychology reveals that contributions to human welfare, its preeminent moral obligation, comes a distant third after (a) guild issues and professional self-interest, and (b) the pursuit of knowledge. In an effort to reassign moral philosophy the place of prominence it deserves, and broaden the ethical discourse of psychology, the authors introduce the term "moral imperative." The promotion of the moral imperative entails the exploration of three fundamental questions, and the advancement of four human agency values. The questions are as follows: (a) To what extent does the present social order promote human welfare for the population at large?, (b) To what extent does psychology support or challenge the present social order?, and (c) What contributions can psychology make to the advent of the "good" society. The human agency values advanced in the proposed framework are: (a) self-determination, (b) distributive justice, (c) collaborative and democratic participation, and (d) relationality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-102
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Psychology(all)


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