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Profile: Mark Alfano (University of Oregon)
  1. Mark Alfano (ed.) (forthcoming). Current Controversies in Virtue Theory. Routledge.
    INTRODUCTION Mark Alfano, Distinguished Guest Fellow, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study -/- PART 1: What is a virtue? 1. Liezl van Zyl, Waikato 2. Heather Battaly, California State University Fullerton -/- PART 2: Can people be virtuous? 1. James Montmarquet, Tennessee State University 2. Mark Alfano, University of Oregon -/- PART 3: How are virtues individuated, and what unites them? 1. Daniel Russell, University of Arizona 2. Christian Miller, Wake Forest -/- PART 4: Does virtue contribute to flourishing? 1. (...)
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  2. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Can People Be Virtuous? In , Current Controversies in Virtue Theory. Routledge.
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  3. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Emotions in the Moral Life, by Robert Roberts. Mind:fzu133.
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  4. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Genealogy Revisited. [REVIEW] Journal of Moral Philosophy.
    “Another Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality?” one might be excused for asking at the sight of Simon May’s new collection. This volume has to contend for shelf space with homonymic monographs by Lawrence Hatab (2008) and David Owen (2007), as well as Daniel Conway’s (2008) Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals, a compilation of the same name edited by Christa Acampora (2006), and Brian Leiter’s Nietzsche on Morality (2002). Add to this that Hatab contributes to May’s collection, Owen and (...)
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  5. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). How One Becomes What One is Called: On the Relation Between Traits and Trait-Terms in Nietzsche. Journal of Nietzsche Studies.
    Despite the recent surge of interest in Nietzsche’s moral psychology and his conceptions of character and virtue in particular, little attention has been paid to his treatment of the relation between character traits and the terms that designate them. In this paper, I argue for an interpretation of this relation: Nietzsche thinks there is a looping effect between the psychological disposition named by a character trait-term and the practice of using that term.
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  6. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Epistemic Situationism: An Extended Prolepsis. In Mark Alfano & Abrol Fairweather (eds.), Epistemic Situationism. Oxford University Press.
    In recent work (Alfano 2012, Alfano forthcoming a, Alfano forthcoming b), I've begun to develop an empirically minded critique of virtue-based accounts of knowledge, justification, and epistemic value. There's an important disanalogy between virtue ethical theories of right action and virtue epistemic theories of knowledge. Most virtue ethicists hold that it's possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason, and hence that right action is possible even for the non-virtuous. Virtue epistemologists, in contrast, almost uniformly claim that knowledge (...)
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  7. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Moral Psychology: An Introduction. Polity.
    This book provides a rich, systematic, and accessible introduction to moral psychology, aimed at undergraduate philosophy and psychology majors. There are eight chapters, in addition to a short introduction, prospective conclusion, and extensive bibliography. The recipe for each chapter will be: a) to introduce a philosophical topic (e.g., altruism, virtue, preferences, rules) and some prominent positions on it, without assuming prior acquaintance on the part of the reader b) to canvass and explain the relevance of a particular domain of empirical (...)
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  8. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Michael W. Austin, Ed. Virtues in Action: New Essays in Applied Virtue Ethics. Journal of Value Inquiry:1-6.
    This ain’t your grandma’s virtue theory.In Michael Austin’s bold new collection, Virtues in Action: New Essays in Applied Virtue Ethics, gone are the pretentions of defining right action generically as what a virtuous person would do in the circumstances, while acting in and from character, provided that a virtuous person would end up in those circumstances. Instead, we find detailed explorations of specific virtues and vices related to specific fields of activity and problems, with attention (some of it careful – (...)
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  9. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Nietzsche, Naturalism, and the Tenacity of the Intentional. Journal of Nietzsche Studies.
    In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche demands that “psychology shall be<br>recognized again as the queen of the sciences.” While one might cast a dubious glance at the “again,” many of Nietzsche’s insights were indeed psychological, and many of his arguments invoke psychological premises. In Genealogy, he criticizes the “English psychologists” for the “inherent psychological absurdity” of their theory of the origin of good and bad, pointing out the implausibility of the claim that the utility of unegoistic<br>actions would be forgotten. Tabling (...)
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  10. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Nietzsche's Socio-Moral Psychology. Cambridge University Press.
  11. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Stereotype Threat and Intellectual Virtue. In Owen Flanagan & Abrol Fairweather (eds.), Naturalizing Virtue. Cambridge University Press.
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  12. Mark Alfano (ed.) (forthcoming). Virtues. The Monist.
    Some virtues, like courage and temperance, have been part of the philosophical tradition since its inception. Others, like filial piety and female chastity, have gone out of style. Still others, like curiosity and aesthetic good taste, are upstarts. What, if anything, can be said in general about this motley collection? Are they all dispositions to respond to reasons? Do they share characteristic components, such as affect, emotion, and trust? Are they organized into a cardinal hierarchy, or is it better to (...)
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  13. Mark Alfano (forthcoming). What Are the Bearers of Virtues? In Hagop Sarkissian & Jennifer Wright (eds.), Advances in Moral Psychology. Continuum.
    It’s natural to assume that the bearers of virtues are individual agents, which would make virtues monadic dispositional properties. I argue instead that the most attractive theory of virtue treats a virtue as a triadic relation among the agent, the social milieu, and the asocial environment. A given person may or may not be disposed to behave in virtuous ways depending on how her social milieu speaks to and of her, what they expect of her, and how they monitor her. (...)
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  14. Mark Alfano & Abrol Fairweather (eds.) (forthcoming). Epistemic Situationism. Oxford University Press.
    INTRODUCTION Abrol Fairweather, San Francisco State University -/- PART 1: The situationist challenge to virtue epistemology 1. Mark Alfano, Princeton University & University of Oregon 2. John Doris & Lauren Olin, Washington University in St. Louis 3. John Turri, University of Waterloo -/- PART 2: Defending virtue epistemology 4. James Montmarquet, Tennessee State University 5. Ernest Sosa, Rutgers 6. Jason Baehr, Loyola Marymount University 7. John Greco, St. Louis University 8. Berit Brogaard, University of Missouri-St. Louis 9. Guy Axtell, Radford (...)
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  15. Brian Robinson, Paul Stey & Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Reversing the Side-Effect Effect: The Power of Salient Norms. Philosophical Studies:1-30.
    In the last decade, experimental philosophers have documented systematic asymmetries in the attributions of mental attitudes to agents who produce different types of side effects. We argue that that this effect is driven not simply by the violation of a norm, but by salient-norm violation. As evidence for this hypothesis, we present two new studies in which two conflicting norms are present, and one or both of them is raised to salience. Expanding one’s view to these additional cases presents, we (...)
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  16. Mark Alfano & Brian Robinson (2014). Bragging. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (3):n/a-n/a.
    The speech act of bragging has never been subjected to conceptual analysis until now. We argue that a speaker brags just in case she makes an utterance that (1) is an assertion and (2) is intended to impress the addressee with something about the speaker via the belief produced by the speaker's assertion. We conclude by discussing why it is especially difficult to cancel a brag by prefacing it with, ‘I'm not trying to impress you, but…’ and connect this discussion (...)
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  17. Mark Alfano (2013). Character as Moral Fiction. Cambridge University Press.
    Everyone wants to be virtuous, but recent psychological investigations suggest that this may not be possible. Mark Alfano challenges this theory and asks, not whether character is empirically adequate, but what characters human beings could have and develop. Although psychology suggests that most people do not have robust character traits such as courage, honesty and open-mindedness, Alfano argues that we have reason to attribute these virtues to people because such attributions function as self-fulfilling prophecies – children become more studious if (...)
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  18. Mark Alfano (2013). Identifying and Defending the Hard Core of Virtue Ethics. Journal of Philosophical Research 38:233-260.
    Virtue ethics has been challenged on empirical grounds by philosophical interpreters of situationist social psychology. Challenges are necessarily challenges to something or other, so it’s only possible to understand the situationist challenge to virtue ethics if we have an antecedent grasp on virtue ethics itself. To this end, I first identify the non-negotiable “hard core” of virtue ethics with the conjunction of nine claims, arguing that virtue ethics does make substantive empirical assumptions about human conduct. Next, I rearticulate the situationist (...)
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  19. Mark Alfano (2013). Simon May (Ed.), Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morality: A Critical Guide (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 345 Pages. ISBN: 9780521518802 (Hbk.). Hardback: $99.00. [REVIEW] Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (5):692-694.
  20. Mark Alfano (2013). The Most Agreeable of All Vices: Nietzsche as Virtue Epistemologist. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (4):767-790.
    It’s been argued with some justice by commentators from Walter Kaufmann to Thomas Hurka that Nietzsche’s positive ethical position is best understood as a variety of virtue theory – in particular, as a brand of perfectionism. For Nietzsche, value flows from character. Less attention has been paid, however, to the details of the virtues he identifies for himself and his type. This neglect, along with Nietzsche’s frequent irony and non-standard usage, has obscured the fact that almost all the virtues he (...)
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  21. Mark Alfano (2013). Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen, Personal Value. Social Theory and Practice 39 (1):166-170.
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  22. Mark Alfano (2013). Virtues, Intelligences, and Situations. [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16:671-673.
  23. Mark Alfano & Abrol Fairweather, Situationism and Virtue Theory. Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy.
    Virtues are dispositions to see, think, desire, deliberate, or act well, with different philosophers emphasizing different permutations of these activities. Virtue has been an object of philosophical concern for thousands of years whereas situationism—the psychological theory according to which a great deal of human perception, thought, motivation, deliberation, and behavior are explained not by character or personality dispositions but by seemingly trivial and normatively irrelevant situational influences—was a development of the 20th century. Some philosophers, especially John Doris and Gilbert Harman (...)
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  24. Brian Robinson, Paul Stey & Mark Alfano (2013). Virtue and Vice Attributions in the Business Context: An Experimental Investigation. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 113 (4):649-661.
    Recent findings in experimental philosophy have revealed that people attribute intentionality, belief, desire, knowledge, and blame asymmetrically to side- effects depending on whether the agent who produces the side-effect violates or adheres to a norm. Although the original (and still common) test for this effect involved a chairman helping or harming the environment, hardly any of these findings have been applied to business ethics. We review what little exploration of the implications for business ethics has been done. Then, we present (...)
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  25. Mark Alfano (2012). Expanding The Situationist Challenge To Responsibilist Virtue Epistemology. Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):223-249.
  26. Mark Alfano (2012). Wilde Heuristics and Rum Tum Tuggers: Preference Indeterminacy and Instability. Synthese 189 (S1):5-15.
    Models in decision theory and game theory assume that preferences are determinate: for any pair of possible outcomes, a and b, an agent either prefers a to b, prefers b to a, or is indifferent as between a and b. Preferences are also assumed to be stable: provided the agent is fully informed, trivial situational influences will not shift the order of her preferences. Research by behavioral economists suggests, however, that economic and hedonic preferences are to some degree indeterminate and (...)
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  27. Mark Alfano, James Beebe & Brian Robinson (2012). The Centrality of Belief and Reflection in Knobe-Effect Cases. The Monist 95 (2):264-289.
    Recent work in experimental philosophy has shown that people are more likely to attribute intentionality, knowledge, and other psychological properties to someone who causes a bad side effect than to someone who causes a good one. We argue that all of these asymmetries can be explained in terms of a single underlying asymmetry involving belief attribution because the belief that one’s action would result in a certain side effect is a necessary component of each of the psychological attitudes in question. (...)
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  28. Mark Alfano (2011). Explaining Away Intuitions About Traits: Why Virtue Ethics Seems Plausible (Even If It Isn't). Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (1):121-136.
    This article addresses the question whether we can know on the basis of folk intuitions that we have character traits. I answer in the negative, arguing that on any of the primary theories of knowledge, our intuitions about traits do not amount to knowledge. For instance, because we would attribute traits to one another regardless of whether we actually possessed such metaphysically robust dispositions, Nozickian sensitivity theory disqualifies our intuitions about traits from being knowledge. Yet we do think we know (...)
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  29. Mark Alfano (2011). Revivals of Non-Cognitivism. Philosophical Forum 42 (3):330-331.
     
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  30. Mark Alfano (2010). The Tenacity of the Intentional Prior to the Genealogy. Journal of Nietzsche Studies 40:29-46.
    I have argued elsewhere that the psychological aspects of Nietzsche’s later works are best understood from a psychodynamic point of view. Nietzsche holds a view I dubbed the tenacity of the intentional (T): when an intentional state loses its object, a new object replaces the original; the state does not disappear entirely. In this essay I amend and clarify (T) to (T``): When an intentional state with a sub-propositional object loses its object, the affective component of the state persists without (...)
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  31. Mark Alfano (2009). A Danger of Definition: Polar Predicates in Moral Theory. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 3 (3).
    In this paper, I use an example from the history of philosophy to show how independently defining each side of a pair of contrary predicates is apt to lead to contradiction. In the Euthyphro, piety is defined as that which is loved by some of the gods while impiety is defined as that which is hated by some of the gods. Socrates points out that since the gods harbor contrary sentiments, some things are both pious and impious. But “pious” and (...)
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  32. Mark Alfano (2009). Hypothetical Intentionalism in Statutory Interpretation. US-China Law Review 6 (12):54-58.
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  33. Mark Alfano (2009). Sensitivity Theory and the Individuation of Belief-Formation Methods. Erkenntnis 70 (2):271 - 281.
    In this paper it is argued that sensitivity theory suffers from a fatal defect. Sensitivity theory is often glossed as: (1) S knows that p only if S would not believe that p if p were false. As Nozick showed in his pioneering work on sensitivity theory, this formulation needs to be supplemented by a further counterfactual condition: (2) S knows that p only if S would believe p if p were true. Nozick further showed that the theory needs a (...)
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