Character, Essence, Action: Considerations on Character Traits after Sartre

The Pluralist 1 (1):40 - 52 (2006)
Two radically different, general accounts of human character traits - the "essentialist" and the "summary" accounts - are given critical consideration. The former account is characterized in terms of Saul Kripke's conception of metaphysical essence. Both accounts are discussed with reference to Jean-Paul Sartre's treatment of character traits. The essentialist account cannot withstand considerations relating to personal identity over time. The summary account is also rejected, as is a certain kind of dispositional account. An approach to at least some character traits in terms of persisting aims, beliefs, and so on is recommended.
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