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 subjectivecharacter. What is this elusive for-me-ness, or subjective (...) class='Hi'>character, of conscious experience? In this paper, I examine six different attempts to account for subjectivecharacter in terms of the functional and representational properties of conscious experiences. After arguing against the first five, I defend the sixth. (shrink)
The author discusses the subjective and irreproducible character of the method of direct experience, which is the ground of the acceptance of observation statements. It is also shown how this method forms a part of the method of arriving at universal statements on the basis of experience without depriving the latter of its intersubjective and reproducible character.
This dissertation investigates the nature, the phenomenal character and the philosophical significance of attention. According to its central thesis, attention is the ongoing mental activity of structuring the stream of consciousness or phenomenal field. The dissertation connects the scientific study of attention in psychology and the neurosciences with central discussions in the philosophy of mind. Once we get clear on the nature and the phenomenal character of attention, we can make progress toward understanding foundational issues concerning the nature (...) and the structure of conscious mentality itself. We understand better how consciousness is connected to self-awareness and to agency, and we get a better grip on the nature of perceptual experience, the unity of consciousness, and its subjectivecharacter. The dissertation also aims at showing that the current empirical investigation of attention should be complemented with work at the level of generality that a philosophical analysis can provide; it shows how such an analysis is relevant for the scientific study of attention by providing a new conceptual framework and suggesting several new areas of research. (shrink)
Kim Atkins argues that Thomas Nagel’s argument regarding a bat’s phenomenal experience is important for understanding the value placed on patient autonomy in medical ethics. In this paper I demonstrate that Atkins’s argument (a) is based on her misinterpretations of Nagel’s argument, and (b) can be established without appealing to such a controversial assumption as that which she makes.
Cognitive integration is a defining yet overlooked feature of our intellect that may nevertheless have substantial effects on the process of knowledge-acquisition. To bring those effects to the fore, I explore the topic of cognitive integration both from the perspective of virtue reliabilism within externalist epistemology and the perspective of extended cognition within externalist philosophy of mind and cognitive science. On the basis of this interdisciplinary focus, I argue that cognitive integration can provide a minimalist yet adequate epistemic norm of (...)subjective justification: so long as the agent’s belief-forming process has been integrated in his cognitive character, the agent can be justified in holding the resulting beliefs merely by lacking any doubts there was something wrong in the way he arrived at them. Moreover, since both externalist philosophy of mind and externalist epistemology treat the process of cognitive integration in the same way, we can claim that epistemic cognitive characters may extend beyond our organismic cognitive capacities to the artifacts we employ or even to other agents we interact with. This move is not only necessary for accounting for advanced cases of knowledge that is the product of the operation of epistemic artifacts or the interactive activity of research teams, but it can further lead to interesting ramifications both for social epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Are conscious states conscious in virtue of representing themselves? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9762-x Authors Berit Brogaard, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 599 Lucas Hall, One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121-4400, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
In having an experience one is aware of having it. Having an experience requires some form of access to one's own state, which distinguishes phenomenally conscious mental states from other kinds of mental states. -/- Until very recently, Higher-Order (HO) theories were the only game in town aiming at offering a full-fledged account of this form of awareness within the analytical tradition. Independently of any objections that HO theories face, First/Same-Order (F/SO) theorists need to offer an account of such access (...) to become a plausible alternative. -/- My aim in this paper is twofold. In the first place, I wish to widen the logical space of the discussion among theories of consciousness by offering a distinction, orthogonal to that between F/SO and HO theories, between what I will call 'Self-Involving' (SI) and 'Mental-State-Involving' (MSI) theories and argue in favor of the former one. In the second place, I will present the basics of a characterization of such a Self-Involving theory in Same-Order terms. (shrink)
Philosophers of mind typically group experiential states together and distinguish these from intentional states on the basis of their purportedly obvious phenomenal character. Sytsma and Machery (Phil Stud 151(2): 299–327, 2010) challenge this dichotomy by presenting evidence that non-philosophers do not classify subjective experiences relative to a state’s phenomenological character, but rather by its valence. However we argue that S&M’s results do not speak to folk beliefs about the nature of experiential states, but rather to folk beliefs (...) about the entity to which those experiential states are attributed. In two experiments, we demonstrate that ordinary attributions of subjective experiences (of smell and felt emotions) to a simple robot are not sensitive to valence, but instead respond to functional assumptions about the entity to which the states are (or are not) attributed. (shrink)
Thomas Nagel contends that facts regarding the qualitative character of conscious experience can be grasped from only a single point of view. This feature, he claims, is what renders conscious experience subjective in character, and it is what makes facts about the qualitative experience subjective facts. While much has been written regarding the ontological implications of the ‘point of view account’ relatively Iittle has been said on whether the account itself successfully defines the subjectivity of the (...) mental. In this paper, I show that considerations of what can be grasped from only a single point of view provide neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for subjective experience. (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)
What is consciousness? How does the subjectivecharacter of consciousness fit into an objective world? How can there be a science of consciousness? In this sequel to his groundbreaking and controversial The Conscious Mind, David Chalmers develops a unified framework that addresses these questions and many others. Starting with a statement of the "hard problem" of consciousness, Chalmers builds a positive framework for the science of consciousness and a nonreductive vision of the metaphysics of consciousness. He replies to (...) many critics of The Conscious Mind, and then develops a positive theory in new directions. The book includes original accounts of how we think and know about consciousness, of the unity of consciousness, and of how consciousness relates to the external world. Along the way, Chalmers develops many provocative ideas: the "consciousness meter", the Garden of Eden as a model of perceptual experience, and The Matrix as a guide to the deepest philosophical problems about consciousness and the external world. This book will be required reading for anyone interested in the problems of mind, brain, consciousness, and reality. (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)
This paper argues that Hegel's depiction of knowledge, as presented in the Encyclopaedia philosophy of subjective Spirit, is founded on what he deems to be the practical interests of self-consciousness. More specifically, it highlights the significance of the will in Hegel's understanding of the cognitive process. I begin with a survey of the relation between category-formation and the notion of self-determining freedom in the Logic , and therewith draw attention to the unity of thinking and willing in the Concept. (...) I then indicate how Hegel's philosophy of subjective Spirit should be read as the applied logic of the Concept, according to which the socially constituted self-conscious I seeks to realise its claims to freedom through its theoretical cognitions of objects. As part of what could be called Hegel's integrative theory of the faculties, I finally argue that the will underscores both the determinate character of our theoretical cognitions and the reflexivity of knowledge in general. On this score, I maintain that Hegel, whose relation to Kant and Fichte I also consider, is of the view that it is with reference to willing that we can account for the self-referential nature of reason in toto as the actualised unity of theoretical-practical subjectivity. (shrink)
Let me begin by indicating where I think Harman and I are in agreement. We both think that "subjective reactions" must come into an account of color, although we have different views about how they do. We both think that perceptual experience has a "presentational or representational character," and that color is represented by our visual experiences as a feature of external objects, not as a feature of our experience. Moreover, we agree that, as Harman puts it, "color (...) is experienced as a simple basic quality, rather than a disposition or complex of causal properties." As Harman emphasized in an earlier paper, 1 what we are introspectively aware of in our experience is its presentational or representational content, not any "mental paint" which bestows this content. I shall refer to all of this as Harman's "phenomenological point." Because we agree on this, we also agree that if his characters George and Mary were spectrum inverted relative to each other, supposing that to be possible, this would have to involve their perceiving the same objects as having different properties, this despite the fact that as normal perceivers they would perceive these objects as having the same colors. And I think we agree that in this case the properties would have to be relational ones, defined or constituted by their relations to the experiences of the subject perceiving them. (shrink)
This chapter examines the modifications William James made to his account of the ethics of belief from his early ‘subjective method’ to his later heightened concerns with personal doxastic responsibility and with an empirically-driven comparative research program he termed a ‘science of religions’. There are clearly tensions in James’ writings on the ethics of belief both across his career and even within Varieties itself, tensions which some critics think spoil his defense of what he calls religious ‘faith ventures’ or (...) ‘overbeliefs’. But our study of James in the first half of the chapter reveals a significant degree of unnoticed unity: The two distinct defenses of faith ventures he develops post-1900 are actually both versions of the Dialogue Model of the relationship between individual religiosity and scientific reasoning. One shared theme in the diverging approaches to doxastic responsibility suggested by the two versions is what some interpreters have called ‘the character issue’ in James’ writings. The second half of the chapter develops these connections and argues that a neo-Jamesian approach tying the ethics of belief with Rawlsian reasonable pluralism and with contemporary character epistemology results in a stronger yet more clearly delimited defense of responsible faith ventures. (shrink)
in the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant explains that moral anthropology studies the “subjective conditions in human nature that help or hinder [people] in fulfilling the laws of a metaphysics of morals” and insists that such anthropology “cannot be dispensed with” (6:217).1 But it is often difficult to find clear evidence of this sort of anthropology in Kant’s own works. in this paper, i discuss Kant’s account of character as an example of Kantian moral anthropology.
The major thesis developed in Sartre's L'imaginaire is that all imaginary acts can be subsumed under the heading of one "image family" and, therefore, that imagination as a whole can be theorized in terms of pictorial representation. Yet this theory fails to meet the objective of Sartre's study, to demonstrate that imaginary activity is not a derivative of perception but an attitude with a character and dignity of its own. The subsidiary account of imagination in terms of neutralization of (...) belief has the advantage of not being constrained by the requirement that imaginary activity serve a purely reproductive function of bringing an absent "original" into a quasi presence and, thus, leaves room for free creativity and fiction. It also points to a concrete lived experience of alterity at the heart of subjective life where the subject stages its life as if it were the life of an other, putting pressure onto Sartre's contention that the cogito defines subjectivity. (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)
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)
Aesthetics plays an important role in environmental conservation. In this paper, I pin down two key concepts for understanding this role, aesthetic character and aesthetic integrity. Aesthetic character describes the particularity of an environment based on its aesthetic and nonaesthetic qualities. In the first part, I give an account of aesthetic character through a discussion of its subjective and objective bases, and I argue for an awareness of the dynamic nature of this character. In the (...) second part, I consider aesthetic character in a conservation context. I develop the diachronic concept of aesthetic integrity to guide decisions about how to manage change to aesthetic character. My argument is illustrated with a case study of the proposal for a superquarry on the remote isle of Harris in Scotland. (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)
Thomas Nagel argues that the subjectivecharacter of mind inevitably eludes philosophical efforts to incorporate the mental into a single, complete, physically objective view of the world. Nagel sees contemporary philosophy as caught on the horns of a dilemma.
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)
Twentieth century philosophers introduced the distinction between “objective rightness” and “subjective rightness” to achieve two primary goals. The first goal is to reduce the paradoxical tension between our judgments of (i) what is best for an agent to do in light of the actual circumstances in which she acts and (ii) what is wisest for her to do in light of her mistaken or uncertain beliefs about her circumstances. The second goal is to provide moral guidance to an agent (...) who may be uncertain about the circumstances in which she acts, and hence is unable to use her standard moral principle directly in deciding what to do. This paper distinguishes two important senses of “moral guidance”; proposes criteria of adequacy for accounts of subjective rightness; canvasses existing definitions for “subjective rightness”; finds them all deficient; and proposes a new and more successful account. It argues that each comprehensive moral theory must include multiple principles of subjective rightness to address the epistemic situations of the full range of moral decision-makers, and shows that accounts of subjective rightness formulated in terms of what it would reasonable for the agent to believe cannot provide that guidance. -/- . (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)
This article presents an interview method which enables us to bring a person, who may not even have been trained, to become aware of his or her subjective experience, and describe it with great precision. It is focused on the difficulties of becoming aware of one’s subjective experience and describing it, and on the processes used by this interview technique to overcome each of these difficulties. The article ends with a discussion of the criteria governing the validity of (...) the descriptions obtained, and then with a brief review of the functions of these descriptions. (shrink)
An important theme running through D.H. Mellor’s work is his realism, or as I shall call it, his objectivism: the idea that reality as such is how it is, regardless of the way we represent it, and that philosophical error often arises from confusing aspects of our subjective representation of the world with aspects of the world itself. Thus central to Mellor’s work on time has been the claim that the temporal A-series (...) (previously called ‘tense’) is unreal while the B-series (the series of ‘dates’) is real. The A-series is something which is a product of our representation of the world, but not a feature of reality itself. And in other, less central, areas of his work, this kind of theme has been repeated: ‘Objective decision making’ (1980) argues that the right way to understand decision theory is as a theory of what is the objectively correct decision, the one that will actually as a matter of fact achieve your intended goal, rather than the one that is justified purely in terms of what you believe, regardless of whether the belief is true or false. ‘I and now’ (1989) argues against a substantial subjective conception of the self, using analogies between subjective and objective ways of thinking about time and subjective and objective ways of thinking about the self. And in the paper which shall be the focus of my attention here, ‘Nothing like experience’ (1992), Mellor.. (shrink)
Two meanings of "subjective consequentialism" are distinguished: conscious deliberation with the aim of producing maximally-good consequences, versus acting in ways that, given one's evidence set and reasoning capabilities, is subjectively most likely to maximize expected consequences. The latter is opposed to "objective consequentialism," which demands that we act in ways that actually produce the best total consequences. Peter Railton's arguments for a version of objective consequentialism confuse the two subjective forms, and are only effective against the first. After (...) reviewing the arguments of Eric Wiland and Frances Howard-Snyder against objective consequentialism, two of Railton's arguments which might seem to count against the second form of subjective consequentialism are shown to be ineffective. This leaves subjective consequentialism as a viable theory to replace objective consequentialism with. (shrink)
In recent years, the notion of a reason has come to occupy a central place in both metaethics and normative theory more broadly. Indeed, many philosophers have come to view reasons as providing the basis of normativity itself . The common conception is that reasons are facts that count in favor of some act or attitude. More recently, philosophers have begun to appreciate a distinction between objective and subjective reasons, where (roughly) objective reasons are determined by the facts, while (...)subjective reasons are determined by one's beliefs. My goal in this paper is to offer a plausible theory of subjective reasons. Although much attention has been focused on theories of objective reasons, very little has been offered in the literature regarding what sort of account of subjective reasons we should adopt; and what has been offered is rather perfunctory, and requires filling-out. Taking what has been said thus far as a starting point, I will consider several putative theories of subjective reasons, offering objections and amendments along the way, will settle on what I take to be a highly plausible account, and will defend that account against objections. (shrink)
In the first part of the paper I try to explain why the disjunctive theory of perception can seem so counterintuitive by focusing on two of the standard arguments against the view-the argument from subjective indiscriminability and the causal argument. I suggest that by focusing on these arguments, and in particular the intuitions that lie behind them, we gain a clearer view of what the disjunctive theory is committed to and why. In light of this understanding, I then present (...) an argument for the disjunctive theory based on the claim that the content of experience is particular and not general. (shrink)
In the transcendental deduction, the central argument of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant seeks to secure the objective validity of our basic categories of thought. He distinguishes objective and subjective sides of this argument. The latter side, the subjective deduction, is normally understood as an investigation of our cognitive faculties. It is identified with Kant’s account of a threefold synthesis involved in our cognition of objects of experience, and it is said to precede and ground Kant’s proof (...) of the validity of the categories in the objective deduction. I challenge this standard reading of the subjective deduction, arguing, first, that there is little textual evidence for it, and, second, that it encourages a problematic conception of how the deduction works. In its place, I present a new reading of the subjective deduction. Rather than being a broad investigation of our cognitive faculties, it should be seen as addressing a specific worry that arises in the course of the objective deduction. The latter establishes the need for a necessary connection between our capacities for thinking and being given objects, but Kant acknowledges that his readers might struggle to comprehend how these seemingly independent capacities are coordinated. Even worse, they might well believe that in asserting this necessary connection, Kant’s position amounts to an implausible subjective idealism. The subjective deduction ismeant to allay these concerns by showing that they rest on a misunderstanding of the relation between these faculties. This new reading of the subjective deduction offers a better fit with Kant’s text. It also has broader implications, for it reveals the more philosophically plausible account of our relation to the world as thinkers that Kant is defending – an account that is largely obscured by the standard reading of the subjective deduction. (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)
Do philosophers and ordinary people conceive of subjective experience in the same way? In this article, we argue that they do not and that the philosophical concept of phenomenal consciousness does not coincide with the folk conception. We first offer experimental support for the hypothesis that philosophers and ordinary people conceive of subjective experience in markedly different ways. We then explore experimentally the folk conception, proposing that for the folk, subjective experience is closely linked to valence. We (...) conclude by considering the implications of our findings for a central issue in the philosophy of mind, the hard problem of consciousness. (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)
Kant frequently speaks as if all voluntary actions arise from our maxims as the subjective principles of our practical reason. But, as Michael Albrecht has pointed out, Kant also occasionally speaks as if it is only the rare person of “character” who acts according to principles or maxims. I argue that Kant’s seemingly contradictory claims on this front result from the fact that there are two fundamentally different ways that maxims of action can figure in the deliberation of (...) the agent: an agent can act on a maxim either because it promises agreeable results or because he deems it to be an intrinsically correct principle of action. Kant describes a maxim of the latter sort as “firm” and as indicative of “character” in the honorific sense. If the agent’s commitment to his maxim is instead conditional on its agreeable results, we can say he does not act “on principle” and in that sense does not act on maxims at all: rather than aiming at a set of results because the action that produces them conforms to his maxim, he acts according to his maxim because doing so promises (and only as long as it promises) the results he desires. Such an agent thus lacks the principled maxims of a person of character since his maxims are always for sale to the highest bidder. Kant allows that an evil person can approximate the ideal of a principled indifference to results, but claims that only morally good action can be wholly principled. This is also why maxims of action in conformity with duty can be acquired gradually through habituation whereas an authentically moral maxim must instead arise from a “revolution” in thought. (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)
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.