Research Topic

Personalism and Moral Psychology: Re-Humanizing Economies and Organizations

About this Research Topic

In late modernity, social and economic responses to ecological, health-related, and societal challenges have focused on the quest for production and profit. In doing so, they have relied on impersonal frameworks that result in environmental damage and consider human beings’ very right to flourishing irrelevant or peripheral. Consideration of the person as the core catalyst for creating a more humane and sustainable future therefore remains a crucial task. In light of this, it needs to be asked whether our theoretical understandings of human beings, their action and their potentiality are genuinely fit for the complicated challenges we face. The present Research Topic explores this question from the philosophical-anthropological tradition of “personalism” in order to spur a renewal of the humanistic foundations of organizational psychology.

Such a task implies considering the person herself as the center of the social realm and an end in herself called to growth and flourishing with others. This, in turn, requires us to understand interpersonal growth as both the means and end of human action. On the basis of a realist ethics underpinned by a logic of the gift, this understanding emphasizes forms of rationality that sustain human community through giving and receiving, and through participatory work and governance for the common good. Grounding the moral actor in this way in a richer and more profound philosophical tradition such as personalism allows for novel insights into individual and collective action that place ethical, cognitive, affective and practical aspects of wisdom at the heart of human action. The present Research Topic is based on the premise that the dehumanizing effects of (late) capitalism on society and nature can be reversed through the adoption of a deeper philosophical and anthropological perspective that significantly shifts our understanding of human beings.

Modern psychology has made significant empirical progress on the basis of an analytic tradition concerned with human personality, traits, motivation, and cognition. Nevertheless, the associated logic of action minimizes the importance of life, well-being and human flourishing. Moreover, it puts communities and their social practices at the service of institutions that primarily seek external goods and their maximization, thereby commodifying work and human action. A personalist approach, inspired by forms of human rationality and integrity that value the singularity of each person as a holistic unity, will help overcome the limitations posed by psychological theories based on modern, reductionist notions of human beings.

In this Research Topic, we therefore welcome contributions that explore the application of personalism to our economic and civic life in an effort to understand the main economic actor: the person. With a variety of philosophically inspired, theoretical and empirical contributions, it aims to indicate potential paths for renewed ethical and organizational management that goes beyond traditional “know-what” and “know-how” toward ethically informed practical wisdom that emphasizes happiness via “know-why” and “know-for-whom.”


Keywords: personalism, person, gift (logic of), wisdom, moral psychology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

In late modernity, social and economic responses to ecological, health-related, and societal challenges have focused on the quest for production and profit. In doing so, they have relied on impersonal frameworks that result in environmental damage and consider human beings’ very right to flourishing irrelevant or peripheral. Consideration of the person as the core catalyst for creating a more humane and sustainable future therefore remains a crucial task. In light of this, it needs to be asked whether our theoretical understandings of human beings, their action and their potentiality are genuinely fit for the complicated challenges we face. The present Research Topic explores this question from the philosophical-anthropological tradition of “personalism” in order to spur a renewal of the humanistic foundations of organizational psychology.

Such a task implies considering the person herself as the center of the social realm and an end in herself called to growth and flourishing with others. This, in turn, requires us to understand interpersonal growth as both the means and end of human action. On the basis of a realist ethics underpinned by a logic of the gift, this understanding emphasizes forms of rationality that sustain human community through giving and receiving, and through participatory work and governance for the common good. Grounding the moral actor in this way in a richer and more profound philosophical tradition such as personalism allows for novel insights into individual and collective action that place ethical, cognitive, affective and practical aspects of wisdom at the heart of human action. The present Research Topic is based on the premise that the dehumanizing effects of (late) capitalism on society and nature can be reversed through the adoption of a deeper philosophical and anthropological perspective that significantly shifts our understanding of human beings.

Modern psychology has made significant empirical progress on the basis of an analytic tradition concerned with human personality, traits, motivation, and cognition. Nevertheless, the associated logic of action minimizes the importance of life, well-being and human flourishing. Moreover, it puts communities and their social practices at the service of institutions that primarily seek external goods and their maximization, thereby commodifying work and human action. A personalist approach, inspired by forms of human rationality and integrity that value the singularity of each person as a holistic unity, will help overcome the limitations posed by psychological theories based on modern, reductionist notions of human beings.

In this Research Topic, we therefore welcome contributions that explore the application of personalism to our economic and civic life in an effort to understand the main economic actor: the person. With a variety of philosophically inspired, theoretical and empirical contributions, it aims to indicate potential paths for renewed ethical and organizational management that goes beyond traditional “know-what” and “know-how” toward ethically informed practical wisdom that emphasizes happiness via “know-why” and “know-for-whom.”


Keywords: personalism, person, gift (logic of), wisdom, moral psychology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

29 March 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

29 March 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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