Standard characterizations of virtue epistemology divide the field into two camps: virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism. Virtue reliabilists think of intellectual virtues as reliable cognitive faculties or abilities, while virtue responsibilists conceive of them as good intellectual character traits. I argue that responsibilist character virtues sometimes satisfy the conditions of a reliabilist conception of intellectual virtue, and that consequently virtue reliabilists, and reliabilists in general, must pay closer attention to matters of intellectual character. This leads to several (...) new questions and (...) challenges for any reliabilist epistemology. (shrink)
This book is a provocative contribution to contemporary ethical theory challenging foundational conceptions of character that date back to Aristotle. John Doris draws on behavioral science, especially social psychology, to argue that we misattribute the causes of behavior to personality traits and other fixed aspects of character rather than to the situational context. More often than not it is the situation not the nature of the personality that really counts. The author elaborates the philosophical consequences of this research (...) for a whole array of ethical theories and shows that, once rid of the misleading conception of motivation, moral psychology can support more robust ethical theories and more humane ethical practices. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This paper examines the claim made by certain virtue epistemologists that intellectual character virtues like fair-mindedness, open-mindedness and intellectual courage merit an important and fundamental role in epistemology. I begin by considering whether these traits merit an important role in the analysis of knowledge. I argue that they do not and that in fact they are unlikely to be of much relevance to any of the traditional problems in epistemology. This presents a serious challenge for virtue epistemology. I go (...) on to examine the work of two other virtue epistemologists in light of this challenge and then sketch an alternative approach that reveals how the intellectual virtues might merit a substantial role in epistemology even if not a role in connection with more traditional epistemological projects. (shrink)
Attentional character is a way of thinking about what is relevant in a human life, what is meaningful and how it becomes so. This paper introduces the concept of attentional character through a redefinition of attentional capture as achievement. It looks freshly at the attentional capture debate in the current cognitive sciences literature through the lens of Aron Gurwitsch’s gestalt-phenomenology. Attentional character is defined as an initially limited capacity for attending in a given environment and is located (...) within the sphere of attention, primarily as an irrelevant centering in attending. (shrink)
In his recent book Lack of Character, John Doris argues that people typically lack character (understood in a particular way). Such a claim, if correct, would have devastating implications for moral philosophy and for various human moral projects (e.g. character development). I seek to defend character against Doris's challenging attack. To accomplish this, I draw on Socrates, Aristotle, and Kant to identify some of the central components of virtuous character. Next, I examine in detail some (...) of the central experiments in social psychology upon which Doris's argument is based. I argue that, properly understood, such experiments reveal differences in the characters of their subjects, not that their subjects lack character altogether. I conclude with some reflections on the significance of such experiments and the importance of character. (shrink)
Modern professional behavior all too often fails to meet high standards of moral conduct. An important reason for this unfortunate state of affairs is the expansive self interest of the individual professional. The individual''s natural desire for his/her own success and pleasure goes unchecked by internal moral constraints. In this essay, I investigate this phenomenon using the psychoanalytic concepts of the ego ideal and superego. These concepts are used to explore the internal psychological dynamics that contribute to moral decision-making. The (...) contrasts between self interest and concern for others, selfishness and moral values, and moral conscience and social conformity are examined in Tolstoy''s study of the modern professional in The Death of Ivan Ilych. By reviewing Freud''s work on the moral conscience, particularly its complex inner structure and liabilities to dysfunction, and applying it to Tolstoy''s penetrating portrayal of Ivan Ilych''s personal and professional life, an understanding of the inner (emotional) foundation of moral character, its dependence on the past through the links between generations, and the need to integrate idealism with moral values is generated. Examples from Enron Corporation will be used throughout the paper to relate the analysis and discussion to contemporary business ethics problems. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences inform us about objective properties of things in our environment. But they also have perspectival character in the sense that they differ phenomenally when objects are viewed from different points of view. Contemporary representationalists hold, at a minimum, that phenomenal character supervenes on representational content. Thus, in order to account for perspectival character, they need to indentify a type of representational content that changes in appropriate ways with the perceiver’s point of view. Many representationlists, including (...) Shoemaker and Lycan, argue that such contents are best construed in terms of mind-dependent properties. Other representationalists, including Tye and Dretske, hold that these contents involve only mind-independent properties. Susanna Schellenberg has recently developed an account of perceptual experience that would serve these latter representationalists extremely well. She suggests that we can do justice to the perspectival character of perceptual experience by appeal to representations of a certain type of relational properties, so-called ‘situation-dependent properties.’ In this paper, I critically engage with Schellenberg’s proposal in order to show how mind-independent representationalists can explain perspectival character. I argue that appeal to situation-dependent properties is problematic. I then show that mind-independent representationalists can account for perspectical character by means of scenario contents in Christopher Peacocke’s sense. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a local account of character traits that posits traits like close-friend-honesty and good-mood-compassion. John Doris also defends local character traits, but his local character traits are indistinguishable from mere behavioral dispositions, they are not necessary for the purpose which allegedly justifies them, and their justification is only contingent, depending upon the prevailing empirical situation. The account of local traits I defend posits local traits that are traits of character rather than behavioral (...) dispositions, local traits that are necessary to satisfy one of their central purposes, and local traits whose justification is dependent upon theoretical rather than empirical considerations. (shrink)
Using evidence from experimental psychology, some social psychologists, moral philosophers and organizational scholars claim that character traits do not exist and, hence, that the philosophical tradition of virtue ethics is empirically inadequate and should dispose of the notion of character to accommodate the empirical evidence. In this paper, I systematically address the debate between dispositionalists and situationists about the existence, status and properties of character traits and their manifestations in human behavior, with the ultimate goal of responding (...) to the question whether virtue ethicists need to abandon the very enterprise of building a character-based moral theory in business ethics and organizational behavior. In the course of this paper, I shall defend the claim that the situationist argument relies on a misinterpretation of the experimental evidence. (shrink)
Deliberation issues in decision, and so might be taken as a paradigmatic volitional activity. Character, on the other hand, may appear pre-volitional: the dispositions that constitute it provide the background against which decisions are made. Bernard Williams offers an intriguing picture of how the two may be connected via the concept of practical necessities, which are at once constitutive of character and deliverances of deliberation. Necessities are thus the glue binding character and the will, allowing us to (...) take responsibility for our characters. Intriguing though the picture may be, it did not receive a thorough elaboration in Williams’s work. My aim here is to work out and defend what I take to be the most valuable aspect of Williams’s view of agency: its model of the way character and the will can jointly determine agency through mutual constitution. However, I argue that Williams’s attempt to use this model to ground his attack on Kantian morality does not succeed, because the primacy Williams accords to character over the will cannot yield the appropriate kind of normative authority, even from the perspective of the agent. I urge that we retain Williams’s model of the interaction between character and the will, modified to allow the will an authority that is not derived from the necessity of character. (shrink)
Abstract. When I have a conscious experience of the sky, there is a bluish way it is like for me to have that experience. We may distinguish two aspects of this "bluish way it is like for me": (i) the bluish aspect and (ii) the for-me aspect. Let us call the bluish aspect of the experience its qualitative character and the for-me aspect its subjective character. What is this elusive for-me-ness, or subjective character, of (...) conscious experience? In this paper, I examine six different attempts to account for subjective character in terms of the functional and representational properties of conscious experiences. After arguing against the first five, I defend the sixth. (shrink)
Gilbert Harman has argued that the common-sense characterological psychology employed in virtue ethics is rooted not in unbiased observation of close acquaintances, but rather in the ‘fundamental attribution error’. If this is right, then philosophers cannot rely on their intuitions for insight into characterological psychology, and it might even be that there is no such thing as character. This supports the idea, urged by John Doris and Stephen Stich, that we should rely exclusively on experimental psychology for our explanations (...) of behaviour. The purported ‘fundamental attribution error’ cannot play the explanatory role required of it, however, and anyway there is no experimental evidence that we make such an error. It is true that trait-attribution often goes wrong, but this is best explained by a set of difficulties that beset the explanation of other people’s behaviour, difficulties that become less acute the better we know the agent. This explanation allows that we can gain genuine insight into character on the basis of our intuitions, though claims about the actual distribution of particular traits and the correlations between them must be based on more objective data. (shrink)
Engineering Ethics literature tends to emphasize wrongdoing, its avoidance, or its prevention. It also tends to focus on identifiable events, especially those that involve unfortunate, sometimes disastrous consequences. This paper shifts attention to the positive in engineering practice; and, as a result, the need for addressing questions of character and imagination becomes apparent.
Our focus here is on whether, when influenced by implicit biases, those behavioural dispositions should be understood as being a part of that person’s character: whether they are part of the agent that can be morally evaluated. We frame this issue in terms of control. If a state, process, or behaviour is not something that the agent can, in the relevant sense, control, then it is not something that counts as part of her character. A number of theorists (...) have argued that individuals do not have control, in the relevant sense, over the operation of implicit bias. We will argue that this claim is mistaken. We articulate and develop a notion of control that individuals have with respect to implicit bias, and argue that this kind of control can ground character-based evaluation of such behavioural dispositions. (shrink)
Most traditional accounts of Aristotle's theory of ethical education neglect its cognitive aspects. This book asserts that, in Aristotle's view, excellence of character comprises both the sentiments and practical reason. Sherman focuses particularly on four aspects of practical reason as they relate to character: moral perception, choicemaking, collaboration, and the development of those capacities in moral education. Throughout the book, she is sensitive to contemporary moral debates, and indicates the extent to which Aristotle's account of practical reason provides (...) an alternative to theories of impartial reason. (shrink)
Virtue ethics has often been regarded as complementary or laissez-faire ethics in solving business problems. This paper seeks conceptual and methodological improvements by developing a virtue character scale that will enable assessment of the link between organizational level virtue and organizational performance, financial or non-financial. Based upon three theoretical assumptions, multiple studies were conducted; the content analysis of 158 Fortune Global 500 firms ethical values and a survey of 2548 customers and employees. Six dimensions of organizational virtue (Integrity, Empathy, (...) Warmth, Courage, Conscientiousness and Zeal) are identified through confirmatory factor analysis, and validated against satisfaction measure. Strategic implications of virtue characters are discussed. (shrink)
Much of the philosophical attention directed to pride focuses on the normative puzzle of determining how pride can be both a central vice and a central virtue. But there is another puzzle, a descriptive puzzle, of determining how the emotion of pride and the character trait of pride relate to each other. A solution is offered to the descriptive puzzle that builds upon the accounts of Hume and Gabriele Taylor, but avoids the pitfalls of those accounts. In particular, the (...) emotion and the trait correspond to two employments of personal ideals: personal ideals as standards of self-assessment and personal ideals as practical guides in one’s deliberation and related activities. This account, in turn, provides a framework for solving the normative puzzle. (shrink)
This paper discusses the ways in which a person’s character ( ethos ) and a hearer’s emotional response ( pathos ) are part of the complex judgments made about experts’ claims, along with an actual assessment of those claims ( logos ). The analysis is rooted in the work of Aristotle, but expands to consider work on emotion and cognition conducted by Thagard and Gigerenzer. It also draws on some conclusions of the general epistemology of testimony (of which expert (...) testimony is a special subset), where it is argued that we learn not just from the transmission of another’s beliefs, but from the words they speak. This shifts the onus in testimony away from the intentions of a speaker onto the judgments of an audience, capturing better its social character and reflecting our experience of receiving testimony. I conclude, however, that accepting the arguments of experts involves much more than simply believing what they say. (shrink)
We often speak of a person's character--good or bad, strong or weak--and think of it as a guide to how that person will behave in a given situation. Oddly, however, philosophers writing about ethics have had virtually nothing to say about the role of character in ethical behavior. What is character? How does it relate to having a self, or to the process of moral decision? Are we responsible for our characters? Character answers these questions, and (...) goes on to examine the place of character in ethical philosophy. Both the Kantian and utilitarian traditions, Kupperman argues, have largely ignored the ways in which decisions are integrated over time, and instead provide a "snapshot" model of moral decision. Kupperman demonstrates the deficiencies of a number of classic and contemporary ethical theories that do not take account of the idea of character, and offers his own character-based theory. Along the way he touches on such subjects as personal identity, the importance of happiness, moral education, and the definition of a valuable life. (shrink)
7.1 META-ETHICS AND AN ERROR THEORY ABOUT MORAL CHARACTER It is customary in philosophical ethics to distinguish between meta-ethics and normative ethical theory. Meta-ethics is often characterized as the non-moral study of ...
The goal of this book is to develop a new framework for thinking about what moral character looks like today. My central claim will be that most people have moral character traits, but at the same time they do not have either the traditional ...
Qualities of personal character would appear to play a significant role in the professional conduct of teachers. It is often said that we remember teachers as much for the kinds of people they were than for anything they may have taught us, and some kinds of professional expertise may best be understood as qualities of character After (roughly) distinguishing qualities of character from those of personality, the present paper draws on the resources of virtue ethics to try (...) to make sense of the former. In the course of this, it is argued that while the key virtue ethical concept of phronesis orpractical wisdom has been widely deployed to account for aspects of professional teacher expertise, it has also been subject to rather un-Aristotelian interpretation as a kind of situation specific productive reasoning. The present paper seeks to show that it is better employed for understanding character in general and character in teaching in particular. The paper concludes with some observations about the professional education or cultivation of character. (shrink)
Introduction -- Global traits of character -- Traits as dispositions -- Situational traits of character -- Situational traits and social psychology -- Situational traits and the friendly consequentialist.
We investigate the extent to which perceptions of the authenticity of supervisor’s personal integrity and character (ASPIRE) moderate the relationship between people’s love of money (LOM) and propensity to engage in unethical behavior (PUB) among 266 part-time employees who were also business students in a five-wave panel study. We found that a high level of ASPIRE perceptions was related to high love-of-money orientation, high self-esteem, but low unethical behavior intention (PUB). Unethical behavior intention (PUB) was significantly correlated with their (...) high Machiavellianism, low self-esteem, and low intrinsic religiosity. Our counterintuitive results revealed that the main effect of LOM on PUB was not significant, but the main effect of ASPIRE on PUB was significant. Further, the significant interaction effect between LOM and ASPIRE on unethical behavior intention provided profoundly interesting findings: High LOM was related to high unethical behavior intention for people with low ASPIRE, but was related to low unethical intention for those with high ASPIRE. People with high LOM and low ASPIRE had the highest unethical behavior intention; whereas those with high LOM and high ASPIRE had the lowest. We discuss results in light of individual differences, ethical environment, and perceived demand characteristics. (shrink)
‘Of all the difficulties which impede the progress of thought and the formation of well- grounded opinions on life and social arrangements’, wrote John Stuart Mill around 150 years ago, ‘the greatest is now the unspeakable ignorance and inattention of mankind in respect of the influences which form character’. Aristotle is never far in the background of Mill’s moral and political philosophy, a presence weightier than Jeremy Bentham’s in the foreground. That this is often overlooked is not only because (...) thinkers tend to be pigeonholed into a single school and Mill eschews the language of virtue. It is also because moral and political philosophers did not heed Mill’s words and continued for over a century to pay very little attention to the nature and development of character. (shrink)
Character education is a specific approach to morals or values education, which is consistently linked with citizenship education. But how is it possible for a heterogeneous society that disagrees about basic values to reach a consensus on what constitutes character education? This article explores how character education has returned to the agenda of British education policy, having been largely neglected since the 1960s in response to unsatisfactory attempts at character education going back to the nineteenth century. (...) Between 1979 and 1997 Conservative governments attempted to reverse a perceived decline in moral standards, established State control of the schools curriculum, imposed on State schools the duty to provide for moral and other development, and established a National Forum which attempted to articulate a set of consensus values in education. Labour has extended these developments in the curriculum, introduced compulsory citizenship education, and its White Paper of September 2001 speaks of 'education with character'. The character and virtues Labour seeks to promote through schools are pragmatic and instrumental in intention, linked to raising pupil school performance, meeting the needs of the new economy, and promoting democratic participation. Otherwise the vision is pluralistic and evades explicit directives, and there is no explanation or analysis of its theoretical basis. The question of how agreement can be reached on what counts as character education may benefit from Sunstein's analysis of how law is possible in a heterogeneous society - 'incompletely theorized agreements on particular cases' allow for common laws without agreement on fundamental principles. Many schools in fact operate in this way, but such a consensus is not entirely stable and runs the danger of teaching character education as a series of behaviour outcomes taught in a behaviourist fashion. (shrink)
Drawing upon the findings of a grounded theory study, this article addresses how sunao-sa influences intercultural communication and the process of building and developing trust between Japanese expatriate managers and Australian supervisors working in subsidiaries of Japanese multinationals in Australia. The authors argue that sunao is related to other concepts in business ethics and virtue literature such as character and its constituents, empathy and concern for others. How sunao as a value, influences the process of interpreting intercultural behaviour in (...) relation to providing accounts, excuses or apologies in situations where a breach of some norm has occurred, is also explained. Although sunao has a particular role in hierarchical relationships between manager and subordinate, the paper concludes that becoming mutually sunao is crucial in learning and understanding the perspectives and expectations of a counterpart so that trust can deepen and flourish. The study makes an original contribution in an area that to date does not appear to have been researched from a management perspective and purports that sunao as character is an important factor in the culture of Japanese multinational organizations and indeed, international management in that context. (shrink)
Why are people trustworthy? I argue for two theses. First, we cannot explain many socially important forms of trustworthiness solely in terms of the instrumentally rational seeking of one’s interests, in response to external sanctions or rewards. A richer psychology is required. So, second, possession of moral character is a plausible explanation of some socially important instances when people are trustworthy. I defend this conclusion against the influential account of trust as ‘encapsulated interest’, given by Russell Hardin, on which (...) most trustworthiness is explained by the interest of continuing relationship. (shrink)
This article explores the civic republican conception of citizenship underlying the Labour government's programme of civil renewal and the introduction of education for democratic citizenship. It considers the importance of the cultivation of civic virtue through political participation for such developments and it reviews the research into how service learning linked to character education can lead to the civic virtue of duty or social responsibility.
The different sorts of virtuous people who display various virtues to a remarkable degree have brought the issue of individualisation of moral character to the forefront. It signals a more personal dimension of character development which is notoriously ignored in the current discourse on character education. The case is made that since in practice, the individualisation of moral character must, by necessity, advance side by side with the cultivation of virtues, a full account of character (...) education needs to give consideration to both concerns. After analysing the specific ways which temperament, social roles, and occupations respectively contribute to the individualisation of moral character, some practical implications are drawn to shed new light on the common practice of the inculcation of virtues. Firstly, since the varieties of moral personality is the norm, it is appropriate to encourage the educated to become virtuous people of different sorts. Secondly, given the influence that temperament may exert on virtue, having good knowledge of each child’s temperament, identifying the specific difficulties possibly confronting him/her accordingly, and then providing more opportunities to strengthen the cultivation of the related virtues are crucial. Thirdly, since children with different temperaments are inclined to identify with different sorts of moral exemplars, it is valuable to present them a great variety of moral models, from which they can choose the kind of virtuous people they would want to emulate. Lastly, since assuming different occupations and social roles is liable to result in various moral characters, character formation cannot be confined to the family or school. Among others, workplaces and communities are also important variables. (shrink)
We suggest that there is a need for those who seek to explore issues associated with the implementation of citizenship education in England to clarify its specific nature. This can be done, at least in part, through a process of comparison. To that end we review some of the connections and disjunctions between 'character education' and 'citizenship education'. We argue, drawing from US and UK literature but focusing our attention on contexts and issues in England, that there are indeed (...) some broad areas of overlap between these two fields. Citizens should be of 'good' character and the educational initiatives that we consider both emerge from a concern about current trends in society. However, we suggest that the overlaps with citizenship education principally apply when character education is drawn very broadly. When we examine a particular approach to character education that is often US-based, and titled as 'citizenship', we note many contrasts with citizenship education as formulated in the National Curriculum for England. We suggest that citizenship educators in England need to interpret claims about the similarity between these two fields with caution, or meanings that apply to both character education and citizenship education will be distorted. (shrink)
Why are personal attacks so powerful? In political debates, speeches, discussions and campaigns, negative character judgments, aggressive charges and charged epithets are used for different purposes. They can block the dialogue, trigger value judgments and influence decisions; they can force the interlocutor to withdraw a viewpoint or undermine his arguments. Personal attacks are not only multifaceted dialogical moves, but also complex argumentative strategies. They can be considered as premises for further arguments based on signs, generalizations or consequences. They involve (...) tactics for arousing emotions such as fear, hate or contempt, or for ridiculing the interlocutor. The twofold level of investigation presented in this paper is aimed at distinguishing the different roles that ad hominem have in a dialogue and bringing to light their hidden dimensions. The reasoning structure of each type of attack will be distinguished from the tactics used to increase its effectiveness and conceal its weaknesses. (shrink)
In everyday life we assume substantial behavioural reliability in others, and on the basis of it we talk of people as acting “in character” and “out of character”. This common assumption seems intuitively well founded. But recent experiments in social psychology have generated philosophical controversy around it. In the context of this debate, John Doris challenges Aristotle’s well known and influential view that people’s behavioural reliability with respect to acting virtuously is underpinned by character traits, understood as (...) settled and integrated dispositions of the agent to have appropriate judgment and appropriate feelings toward what she is called upon to do in a given situation. In this paper I will take John Doris’ challenge at face value, and argue in response that Aristotle’s position is not undermined by it. In fact, rethinking Aristotle’s realism about character and moral virtues in light of Doris’ criticism has important and hitherto unexplored heuristic value for Aristotelian scholars and situationist philosophers alike. (shrink)
This article analyzes the moral and political implications of strong moral character for political action. The treatment provides reason to hold that strong moral character should play a role in a robust normative account of political leadership. The case is supported by empirical findings on character dispositions and the political viability of the account’s normative prescriptions.
Humoralism, the view that the human body is composed of a limited number of elementary fluids, is one of the most characteristic aspects of ancient medicine. The psychological dimension of humoral theory in the ancient world has thus far received a relatively small amount of scholarly attention. Medical psychology in the ancient world can only be correctly understood by relating it to psychological thought in other fields, such as ethics and rhetoric. The concept that ties these various domains together is (...)character (êthos), which involves a view of human beings focused on clearly distinguishable psychological types that can be recognized on the basis of external signs. Psychological ideas based on humoral theory remained influential well into the early modern period. Yet, in 17th-century medicine and philosophy, humoral physiology and psychology started to lose ground to other theoretical perspectives on the mind and its relation to the body. This decline of humoralist medical psychology can be related to a broader reorientation of psychological thought in which the traditional concept of character lost its central position. Instead of the focus on types and stable character traits, a perspective emerged that was primarily concerned with individuality and transient passions. (shrink)
In this paper we consider the prospects for an account of good argument that takes the character of the arguer into consideration. We conclude that although there is much to be gained by identifying the virtues of the good arguer and by considering the ways in which these virtues can be developed in ourselves and in others, virtue argumentation theory does not offer a plausible alternative definition of good argument.
The theory of embodied cognition makes the claim that our cognitive processes are, at their core, sensorimotor, situated, and action-relevant. Our mental system is built primarily to control action, and so mind is formed by the nature of the body and its interactions with the world. In this paper we will explore the nature of virtue and its formation from the perspective of embodied cognition. We specifically describe exemplars of the virtue of compassion (caregivers of individuals with developmental disabilities in (...) L'Arche communities), speculating as to what might have been the formative influences in their character development. Embodied formation is understood in the context of the openness of human cortical systems to formation by social interactions, and in terms of the openness to reorganization and change of complex dynamical systems. Specific formative influences explored include interpersonal imitation, social attachment, language, and story. (shrink)
While most discussions of corruption focus on administration, institutions, the law and public policy, little attention in the debate about societal reform is paid to the “internalities” of anti-corruption efforts, specifically to character-formation and issues of personal and corporate integrity. While the word “integrity” is frequently mentioned as the goal to be achieved through institutional reforms, even in criminal prosecutions, the specifically philosophical aspects of character-formation and the development of corporate and individual virtues in a rational and systematic (...) way tend to be neglected. This paper focuses on the “internalities” of anti-corruption work with special emphasis on the pre-requisites that need to be ensured on behalf of the social elites in order for proper individual and collective character- formation to take place throughout the society. The author argues that a systematic pursuit of socially recognised virtues, both those pertaining to society as a whole and those specific to particular professions and social groups, is the most comprehensive and strategically justified way of pursuing anti-corruption policy, while institutional and penal policies can only serve an auxiliary role. The pursuit of institutional and criminal justice policies against corruption in a society that is subject to increasing relativism with regard to values and morality is at best ineffective, and at worst socially destructive. Thus the paper suggests a re-examination of the social discourse on the level of what the author calls “value strategy” and the gradual building of a plan to create and solidify specifically designed features of “corporate character” for key sectors of the society. This approach can serve as the main long-term strategy to improve the public profile of integrity and reinforce morality in both the public and civil sectors. (shrink)
Following the rise of virtue and character education, educational philosophers have recently given much attention to questions relating to virtue and the good. This, however, has not been paralleled by a similar interest in vice and evil, which, in this context, are examined only rarely. In this article, I use the work of the American philosopher John Kekes as a backdrop for discussing the role coping with vice and evil should play in virtue and character education. I show (...) how Kekes’ assumptions that people have natural inclinations towards both virtue and vice and that evil and vice are an inevitable part of human existence lead to the idea that character education should explicitly discuss not only the virtues but also the vices, that it should promote self-control and that it should bring people to recognize that they have mixed moral inclinations. I then argue that even if we reject Kekes’ key assumptions, embracing these three ideas that attempt to provide means to counter the vices might still have marked benefits for character education. The article concludes by suggesting that while the ideas that stem from Kekes’ approach should not necessarily be embraced, the themes that they raise call for greater consideration and further analysis. (shrink)
The English Puritan Richard Baxter (1615-1691) developed an account of forgiveness that resonates with twentieth-century virtue ethics. He understood forgiveness as one component of a larger disposition of character developed in community as human beings recognize themselves as sinful creatures engaged in complex relationships of dependency and responsibility, with both God and one another. In the midst of these relationships, persons experience divine and human forgiveness and discover opportunities to practice forgiveness in return. Baxter thus negotiated a distinctive relationship (...) between Christian hope for reconciliation and more stereotypical Puritan emphases on punishment, civil order, and justice. At the same time that recent moral reflection allows us to raise questions about some features of Baxter's argument (such as his treatment of anger), his work provides important resources for correlating dispositions with concrete obligations, establishing a place for forgiveness in the public realm, and counterbalancing the modern emphasis on individual rights. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Reid and Hume on the Possibility of Character--James A. Harris * Adam Smith's Rhetorical Art of Character--Stephen McKenna * The Moral Education of Mankind: Character and Religious Moderatism in the Sermons of Hugh Blair--Thomas Ahnert * The Not-So-Prodigal Son: James Boswell and the Scottish Enlightenment--Anthony La Vopa * Character, Sociability and Correspondence: Elizabeth Griffith and The Letters between Henry and Frances--Eve Tavor Bannet * Smellie's Dreams: Character and Consciousness in the (...) Scottish Enlightenment--Phyllis Mack William * Aspects of Character and Sociability in Scottish Enlightenment Medicine--Neil Vickers * The 'Peculiar Colouring of the Mind': Character and Painted Portraiture in the Scottish Enlightenment--Viccy Coltman * National Characters and Race: A Scottish Enlightenment Debate--Silvia Sebastiani * Character and Cosmopolitanism in the Scottish-American Enlightenment--Hannah Spahn * Historical Characters: Biography, the Science of Man, and Romantic Fiction--Susan Manning * Necessity, Freedom, and Character Formation from the Eighteenth Century to the Nineteenth--Jerrold Seigel. (shrink)
This paper draws from the work of sixteenth century theologian, philosopher, and ethicist Domingo de Soto and considers his virtue-based approach to the ethical evaluation of commerce within an Aristotelian–Thomistic framework for the articulation of business and the common good. Particular attention is given to the fundamental emphasis placed by Soto in distinguishing between commerce as an activity and the specific conduct of persons engaging in commercial activity. The distinction between the material and the formal parts of the common good (...) is then employed to shed light on the way Soto articulates commercial practices, virtuous character, and the common good. It is concluded that Soto’s major contribution for business ethics is clarifying that the key element for the ethical evaluation of commerce is the embodiment of virtuous personal conduct in the exercise of commercial activity. In this framework, the fulfillment of commerce’s potential to contribute to the common good is thus fundamentally interconnected with putting virtues into practice. (shrink)
This research involves a novel apparatus, in which the user is presented with an illusion inducing visual stimulus. The user perceives illusory movement that can be followed by the eye, so that smooth pursuit eye movements can be sustained in arbitrary directions. Thus, free-flow trajectories of any shape can be traced. In other words, coupled with an eye-tracking device, this apparatus enables "eye writing", which appears to be an original object of study. We adapt a previous model of reading and (...) writing to this context. We describe a probabilistic model called the Bayesian Action-Perception for Eye On-Line model (BAP-EOL). It encodes probabilistic knowledge about isolated letter trajectories, their size, high-frequency components of the produced trajectory, and pupil diameter. We show how Bayesian inference, in this single model, can be used to solve several tasks, like letter recognition and novelty detection (i.e., recognizing when a presented character is not part of the learned database). We are interested in the potential use of the eye writing apparatus by motor impaired patients: the final task we solve by Bayesian inference is disability assessment (i.e., measuring and tracking the evolution of motor characteristics of produced trajectories). Preliminary experimental results are presented, which illustrate the method, showing the feasibility of character recognition in the context of eye writing. We then show experimentally how a model of the unknown character can be used to detect trajectories that are likely to be new symbols, and how disability assessment can be performed by opportunistically observing characteristics of fine motor control, as letter are being traced. Experimental analyses also help identify specificities of eye writing, as compared to handwriting, and the resulting technical challenges. (shrink)
This paper gives an account of the argument of Schopenhauer's essay On the Freedom of the Human Will, drawing also on his other works. Schopenhauer argues that all human actions are causally necessitated, as are all other events in empirical nature, hence there is no freedom in the sense of liberum arbitrium indifferentiae. However, our sense of responsibility or agency (being the ‘doers of our deeds’) is nonetheless unshakeable. To account for this Schopenhauer invokes the Kantian distinction between empirical and (...) intelligible characters. The paper highlights divergences between Schopenhauer and Kant over the intelligible character, which for Schopenhauer can be neither rational nor causal. It raises the questions whether the intelligible character may be redundant to Schopenhauer's position, and whether it can coherently belong to an individual agent, suggesting that for Schopenhauer a more consistent position would have been to deny freedom of will to the individual. (shrink)
This volume of original essays addresses a range of issues concerning the responsibility individuals have for their actions and for their characters. Among the central questions considered are: what scope is there for regarding a person as responsible for his character given genetic and environmental factors; does an account of responsiblity provide a legitimate basis for the retributive emotions; are we ever justified in feeling guilty for occurrences over which we have no control; does responsibility for the consequences of (...) our acts require that they were intended or simply expected; and how have a number of influential previous philosophers, including Aristotle, Maimonides, and Spinoza, approached these questions? (shrink)
Connie Missimer (1990) challenges what she calls the Character View, according to which critical thinking involves both skill and character, and argues for a rival conception-the Skill View-according to which critical thinking is a matter of skill alone. In this paper I criticize the Skill View and defend the Character View from Missimer's critical arguments.
This is a reissue, with new introduction, of Susan Sauvé Meyer's 1993 book, in which she presents a comprehensive examination of Aristotle's accounts of voluntariness in the Eudemian and Nicomachean Ethics. She makes the case that these constitute a theory of moral responsibility--albeit one with important differences from modern theories. Highlights of the discussion include a reconstruction of the dialectical argument in the Eudemian Ethics II 6-9, and a demonstration that the definitions of 'voluntary' and 'involuntary' in Nicomachean Ethics III (...) 1 are the culmination of that argument. By identifying the paradigms of voluntariness and involuntariness that Aristotle begins with and the opponents (most notably Plato) he addresses, Meyer explains notoriously puzzling features of the Nicomachean account--such as Aristotle's requirement that involuntary agents experience pain or regret. Other familiar features of Aristotle's account are cast in a new light. That we are responsible for the characters we develop turns out not to be a necessary condition of responsible agency. That voluntary action has its "origin" in the agent and that our actions are "up to us to do and not to do"--often interpreted as implying a libertarian conception of agency--turn out to be perfectly compatible with causal determinism, a point Meyer makes by locating these locutions in the context of Aristotle's general understanding of causality. While Aristotle does not himself face or address worries that determinism is incompatible with responsibility, his causal repertoire provides the resources for a powerful response to incompatibilist arguments. On this and other fronts Aristotle's is a view to be taken seriously by theorists of moral responsibility. (shrink)