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Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology - Vol 34, Iss 1

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Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology The Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology is devoted to fostering discussion at the interface of psychology, philosophy, and metatheory. The Journal addresses ontological, epistemological, ethical, and critical issues in psychological theory and inquiry as well as the implications of psychological theory and inquiry for philosophical issues.
Copyright 2014 American Psychological Association
  • Psychology and social justice: Theoretical and philosophical engagements.
    Although there has been considerable empirical scholarship on the psychological dimensions of social justice, there has been less interest in interrogating and clarifying the philosophical and theoretical issues that lie at the intersection of psychology and social justice. The purpose of this special issue is to bring together a range of established scholars with diverse social and political commitments to reflect on some of the philosophical and theoretical issues that emerge when psychologists address social justice in their research and practice. The major themes taken up in this issue include the relationship between the individual and the community, the role that psychology plays both in promoting and in preventing the development of more equitable social and political institutions, and the way that different forms of universalism (e.g., moral, scientific, psychological) inform the struggle for social justice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Social justice and psychology: What is, and what should be.
    This article proposes that all psychologists—and all psychologies—are innately concerned with justice, and yet there is no consensually defined discipline of psychology, and no consensual understanding of social justice. Adopting an intergroup and identity-based model of what is and what should be, we will describe the mechanisms whereby identities and perceptions of justice are formed, contested, and changed over time. We will argue that psychological research and practice have implications for social justice even where—and perhaps especially when—these are not made explicit. Psychology is considered as the product of diverse groups with distinct and evolving identities, and with differential access to resources and power, which dynamically contest different normative perceptions of justice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Madness and justice.
    This article makes the case for “social justice” in relation to the conceptions of “madness” that currently operate in mental health practice. The argument proceeds in eight steps which challenge dominant views of “madness” in the discipline of psychology. Each of these eight steps is linked to the question of social justice. The first step concerns the irresolvable differences between “models” of madness, with a focus here on four mainstream models: the psychiatric medical model, psychoanalytic conceptions of “psychosis,” systemic interventions into family systems, and cognitive–behavioral therapy approaches. The second step concerns the differences internal to each of these models. In the third step I identify a fifth “model” which is usually occluded in psychological debate, the model madness elaborates of itself. The article then turns to the social conditions that structure different models of madness. Step four of the argument is to emphasize the way that models of madness are embedded in structures of power and point five steps back to the historical separation of reason from unreason as condition of possibility for “madness” as such to be configured as object of psychology. Step six is concerned with the “madness” of contemporary social reality, and step seven with the way that this socially structured madness informs clinical practice. The eighth step is to draw attention to already-existing alternative social practices; social justice in action organized by and for the mental health system user and survivor movements. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The personal and political economy of psychologists’ desires for social justice.
    From an anticapitalist perspective we examine the personal and political economy of the desires for social justice expressed by psychologists associated with either the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) or Behaviorists for Social Responsibility (BSR). First, we consider terms and concepts related to social justice and acknowledge our conceptual debts to critical theory, poststructuralism, feminist epistemology, and liberation psychology. To provide context, we briefly review North American psychologists’ historical relationship to the state. Then, after discussing the implications of different accounts of SPSSI’s past expressions of interest in social justice, we assess three collections of articles in the last decade of SPSSI’s house organ, the Journal of Social Issues. Next, we examine the interests in social justice shown by B. F. Skinner and subsequent generations of operant behaviorists, known as behavior analysts. Overall, our review of these two bodies of literature indicates that authors tended to use the language of social justice loosely and to present liberal political visions, abstracted from direct political involvement and aimed at reforming social conditions. Furthermore, we infer that the privileged socioeconomic status of academic psychologists compromises aspirations to contribute to social action that challenges the status quo. Accordingly, we propose abandoning attempts as psychologists to practice social justice. Instead, we advocate joining emancipatory struggles in solidarity with other citizens, while striving to overcome socioeconomic and intellectual hierarchies in academic psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Belief in a just God (and a just society): A system justification perspective on religious ideology.
    Theoretical approaches that treat religiosity as an evolutionary byproduct of cognitive mechanisms to detect agency may help to explain the prevalence of superstitious thinking, but they say little about the social–motivational (or ideological) functions of religious beliefs or the specific contents of religious doctrines. To address these omissions, we develop the thesis that religion provides an ideological justification for the existing social order, so that prevailing institutions and arrangements are perceived as legitimate and just, and therefore worth obeying and preserving. We summarize empirical evidence revealing that (a) religiosity is associated with the same set of epistemic, existential, and relational needs that motivate system justification; (b) religiosity is associated with the endorsement of the belief in a just world, Protestant work ethic, fair market ideology, opposition to equality, right-wing authoritarianism, political conservatism, and other system-justifying belief systems; and (c) religious ideology appears to serve the palliative function of making people happier or more satisfied with the way things are. Although most major religious texts and movements contain progressive as well as conservative elements, belief in God is more often than not system-justifying in terms of its motivational antecedents, manifestations, and consequences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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