Psychology’s Ideals

Examining the Examiners
  • Edward E. Sampson
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


At this point in my work on justice, it became apparent that my concerns were not like those underlying most of my colleagues’ contributions to the justice literature. I was not so much concerned with understanding the psychological dynamics of justice per se as I was with comprehending the field of psychology that had produced the existing understanding of justice. I believed that we could never understand justice in itself without first understanding more about the way we went about understanding justice. This belief would soon broaden, and I would argue that before we could understand whatever specific content areas we examined through our psychological inquiry, we would have to examine the field conducting the inquiry. Mine became a metapsychological concern, an examination of the discipline and its ideals. Two key papers emerged from this metapsychological analysis. The first (Sampson, 1977) examined what I termed a “self-contained individualistic ideal” permeating psychology; the second (Sampson, 1978) sought to locate that ideal within the paradigm of science that governed the field.


Moral Reasoning Female Quality Justice Literature American Character Specific Content Area 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward E. Sampson
    • 1
  1. 1.Wright InstituteBerkeleyUSA

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