Empathy, social psychology, and global helping traits

Philosophical Studies 142 (2):247-275 (2009)
The central virtue at issue in recent philosophical discussions of the empirical adequacy of virtue ethics has been the virtue of compassion. Opponents of virtue ethics such as Gilbert Harman and John Doris argue that experimental results from social psychology concerning helping behavior are best explained not by appealing to so-called ‘global’ character traits like compassion, but rather by appealing to external situational forces or, at best, to highly individualized ‘local’ character traits. In response, a number of philosophers have argued that virtue ethics can accommodate the empirical results in question. My own view is that neither side of this debate is looking in the right direction. For there is an impressive array of evidence from the social psychology literature which suggests that many people do possess one or more robust global character traits pertaining to helping others in need. But at the same time, such traits are noticeably different from a traditional virtue like compassion
Keywords Social psychology  Harman  Doris  Empathy  Character traits  Altruism  Helping  Virtue ethics  Virtue  Compassion  Batson  Situationism
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DOI 10.2307/27734366
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References found in this work BETA
Aristotle (2012). Nicomachean Ethics. Courier Dover Publications.

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Lauren Olin & John M. Doris (2014). Vicious Minds. Philosophical Studies 168 (3):665-692.
T. J. Kasperbauer (2015). Rejecting Empathy for Animal Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):817-833.
James Bernard Murphy (2015). Does Habit Interference Explain Moral Failure? Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (2):255-273.

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