This mode searches for entries containing all the entered words in their title, author, date, comment field, or in any of many other fields showing on OPC pages.
This mode searches for entries containing the text string you entered in their author field. Note that the database does not have first names for all authors, so it is preferable to search only by surnames. If you search for a full name or a name with an initial, enter it in the format used internally, namely the "Lastname, Firstname" or "Lastname, F." format.
This mode differs from the all fields mode in two respects. First, some information not publicly available on the site is searched, e.g., abstracts and excerpts gathered by the crawler, which are not always accurate but can help broaden one's search. Second, you may prefix any term with a '+' or '-' to narrow the search to entries containing it or not containing it, respectively. Terms which are not prefixed by a '+' are not mandatory. Instead, they are weighed depending on their frequency in order to determine the best search results. You may also search for a literal string composed of several words by putting them in double quotation marks (").
Note that short and / or common words are ignored by the search engine.
Try PhilPapers to find published items which are available on a subscription basis.
Abstract: The first part of this article discusses recent skepticism about character traits. The second describes various forms of virtue ethics as reactions to such skepticism. The philosopher J.-P. Sartre argued in the 1940s that character traits are pretenses, a view that the sociologist E. Goffman elaborated in the 1950s. Since then social psychologists have shown that attributions of character traits tend to be inaccurate through the ignoring of situational factors. (Personality psychology has tended to concentrate on people’s conceptions of personality and character rather than on the accuracy of these conceptions). Similarly, the political theorist R. Hardin has argued for situational explanations of bloody social disputes in the former Yugoslavia and in Africa, rather than explanations in terms of ethnic hatred for example. A version of virtue ethics might identify virtues as characteristics of acts rather than character traits, as traits consisting in actual regularities in behavior, or as robust dispositions that would manifest themselves also in counterfactual situations
Abstract: Situationist social psychologists tell us that information about people’s distinctive character traits, opinions, attitudes, values, or past behavior is not as useful for determining what they will do as is information about the details of their situations.1 One would expect, they say, that the possessor of a given character trait (such as helpfulness) would behave consistently (helpfully) across situations that are similar in calling for the relevant (helping) behavior, but under experimental conditions, people’s behavior is not found to be cross-situationally consistent (the likelihood that a person who has behaved helpfully on one occasion will behave helpfully on the next is hardly above chance).2 Instead, across a range of situations, the person’s behavior tends to converge on the behavioral norm for those situations. So situationists reason that people’s situations, rather than their characters, are the explanatorily powerful factors in determining why different people behave differently. They add that if behavior does not covary with character traits, then ordinary people, “folk psychologists” who try to explain and predict..
Abstract: Several philosophers have recently claimed to have discovered a new and rather significant problem with virtue ethics. According to them, virtue ethics generates certain expectations about the behavior of human beings which are subject to empirical testing. But when the relevant experimental work is done in social psychology, the results fall remarkably short of meeting those expectations. So, these philosophers think, despite its recent success, virtue ethics has far less to offer to contemporary ethical theory than might have been initially thought. I argue that there are plausible ways in which virtue ethicists can resist arguments based on empirical work in social psychology. In the first three sections of the paper, I reconstruct the line of reasoning being used against virtue ethics by looking at the recent work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. The remainder of the paper is then devoted both to responding to their challenge as well as to briefly sketching a positive account of character trait possession
Abstract: I defend the epistemic thesis that evaluations of people in terms of their moral character as good, bad, or intermediate are almost always epistemically unjustified. (1) Because most people are fragmented (they would behave deplorably in many and admirably in many other situations), one’s prior probability that any given person is fragmented should be high. (2) Because one’s information about specific people does not reliably distinguish those who are fragmented from those who are not, one’s posterior probability that any given person is fragmented should be close to one’s prior—and thus should also be high. (3) Because being fragmented entails being indeterminate (neither good nor bad nor intermediate), one’s posterior probability that any given person is indeterminate should also be high—and the epistemic thesis follows. (1) and (3) rely on previous work; here I support (2) by using a mathematical result together with empirical evidence from personality psychology
Abstract: John Doris has recently argued that since we do not possess character traits as traditionally conceived, virtue ethics is rooted in a false empirical presupposition. Gopal Sreenivasan has claimed, in a paper in Mind, that Doris has not provided suitable evidence for his empirical claim. But the experiment Sreenivasan focuses on is not one that Doris employs, and neither is it relevantly similar in structure. The confusion arises because both authors use the phrase ‘cross-situational consistency’ to describe the aspect of character traits that they are concerned with, but neither defines this phrase, and it is ambiguous: Doris uses it in one sense, Sreenivasan in another. Partly for this reason, the objections Sreenivasan raises fail to block the argument Doris provides. In particular, the most reliable data Doris employs, Milgram’s famous study of authority, is entirely immune to Sreenivasan’s objections. Sreenivasan has not shown, therefore, that Doris provides unsuitable evidence for his claim
Abstract: Philosophers have recently argued that we should revise our understanding of character. An individual’s behaviour is governed not by a set of ‘global’ traits, each elicited by a certain kind of situational feature, but by a much larger array of ‘local’ traits, each elicited by a certain combination of situational features. The data cited by these philosophers supports their theory only if we conceive of traits purely in terms of stimulus and response, rather than in the more traditional terms of inner mental items such as inclinations. We should not adopt the former conception, since doing so would impede pursuit of the ethical aims for which we need a theory of character, whereas retaining the latter conception will facilitate this pursuit. So we should not revise our understanding of character in this way
Abstract: Philosophers have recently argued that traditional discussions of virtue and character presuppose an account of behaviour that experimental psychology has shown to be false. Behaviour does not issue from global traits such as prudence, temperance, courage or fairness, they claim, but from local traits such as sailing-in-rough-weather-with-friends-courage and office-party-temperance. The data employed provides evidence for this view only if we understand it in the light of a behaviourist construal of traits in terms of stimulus and response, rather than in the light of the more traditional construal in terms of inner events such as inclinations. More recent experiments have shown this traditional conception to have greater explanatory and predictive power than its behaviourist rival. So we should retain the traditional conception, and hence reject the proposed alteration to our understanding of behaviour. This discussion has further implications for future philosophical investigations of character and virtue. Key Words: character traits situationism social psychology virtue ethics