Psychology as a Moral Science: Aspects of John Dewey's Psychology

History of the Human Sciences 17 (1):1-28 (2004)

The article presents an interpretation of certain aspects of John Dewey’s psychological works. The interpretation aims to show that Dewey’s framework speaks directly to certain problems that the discipline of psychology faces today. In particular the reflexive problem, the fact that psychology as an array of discursive practices has served to constitute forms of human subjectivity in Western cultures. Psychology has served to produce or transform its subject-matter. It is shown first that Dewey was aware of the reflexive problem, and found that it needed to be addressed. Next, three concepts of Dewey’s psychology are drawn in: subjectivity, habit and morality. Dewey is interpreted as articulating what we today would call a practice-orientated approach to psychology, in which moral and practical reasoning is seen as a dimension of all knowledge and action. Subjectivity is understood as a function emerging with complex interaction. Finally, a Deweyan approach to how psychology and other social sciences can cope with, and make positive use of, the reflexive problem, is outlined. By acknowledging their existence in the world they study, i.e. by becoming moral sciences that realize their moral and political implications, the social sciences can become problem-solving instruments that serve to help create a democratic public, a community as an actual social idea. It is pointed out that Dewey had an attractive view both of psychology – the subject-matter and of Psychology – the discipline and its practices – and ventured on the rare attempt at explicating how they are connected in what he called Great Societies, what we today would call post- or late-modernity, and how Psychology can help to constitute Great Communities in which human beings might flourish
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0952695104043579
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 41,650
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception.James J. Gibson - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (2):203-206.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 141:125-126.
Phenomenology of Perception.Aron Gurwitsch, M. Merleau-Ponty & Colin Smith - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (3):417.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Toward an Epistemology of the Hand.Svend Brinkmann & Lene Tanggaard - 2010 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 29 (3):243-257.
Enactivism, Pragmatism…Behaviorism?Louise Barrett - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (3):807-818.
Practical Reason and Positioning.Svend Brinkmann - 2007 - Journal of Moral Education 36 (4):415-432.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
7 ( #856,039 of 2,250,047 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #1,030,887 of 2,250,047 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature