Harman vs. virtue theory

Southwest Philosophy Review 21 (1):137-145 (2004)
Abstract
While there are alternative accounts, many virtue theories are character based, that is, they assert that the primary loci if moral evaluation are a person's character traits. According to these theories, any individual human being is good insogar as she possesses certain character traits, the virtues, and does not possess their antipodes, the vices. Gilbert Harman has attacked this view by citing evidence in empirical psychology that human behaviour is explained by situational factors to the exclusion of stable dispositions of character. In this paper I argue that Harman's attack fails, firstly because his target is too wide, meaning that the traits tested for are not of the type most relevant to virtue theory, and secondly because he cannot dispense with character traits for explaining behaviour.
Keywords character traits  virtues  situationism  social psychology
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