Because little is known about the human trait of affiliation, we provide a novel neurobehavioral model of affiliative bonding. Discussion is organized around processes of reward and memory formation that occur during approach and consummatory phases of affiliation. Appetitive and consummatory reward processes are mediated independently by the activity of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine (DA)–nucleus accumbens shell (NAS) pathway and the central corticolimbic projections of the u-opiate system of the medial basal arcuate nucleus, respectively, although these two (...) projection systems functionally interact across time. We next explicate the manner in which DA and glutamate interact in both the VTA and NAS to form incentive-encoded contextual memory ensembles that are predictive of reward derived from affiliative objects. Affiliative stimuli, in particular, are incorporated within contextual ensembles predictive of affiliative reward via: (a) the binding of affiliative stimuli in the rostral circuit of the medial extended amygdala and subsequent transmission to the NAS shell; (b) affiliative stimulus-induced opiate potentiation of DA processes in the VTA and NAS; and (c) permissive or facilitatory effects of gonadal steroids, oxytocin (in interaction with DA), and vasopressin on (i) sensory, perceptual, and attentional processing of affiliative stimuli and (ii) formation of social memories. Among these various processes, we propose that the capacity to experience affiliative reward via opiate functioning has a disproportionate weight in determining individual differences in affiliation. We delineate sources of these individual differences, and provide the first human data that support an association between opiate functioning and variation in trait affiliation. Key Words: affiliation corticolimbic-striatal networks; appetitive and consummatory reward; dopamine; oxytocin; personality; social bonds; social memory; u-opiates. (shrink)
This paper examines the implications of certain social psychological experiments for moral theory—specifically, for virtue theory. Gilbert Harman and John Doris have recently argued that the empirical evidence offered by ‘situationism’ demonstrates that there is no such thing as a character trait. I dispute this conclusion. My discussion focuses on the proper interpretation of the experimental data—the data themselves I grant for the sake of argument. I develop three criticisms of the anti-trait position. Of these, the central criticism (...) concerns three respects in which the experimental situations employed to test someone's character trait are inadequate to the task. First, they do not take account of the subject's own construal of the situation. Second, they include behaviour that is only marginally relevant to the trait in question. Third, they disregard the normative character of the responses in which virtue theory is interested. Given these inadequacies in situationism's operationalized conception of a ‘character trait’, I argue that situationism does not really address the proposition that people have ‘character traits’, properly understood. A fortiori, the social psychological evidence does not refute that proposition. I also adduce some limited experimental evidence in favour of character traits and distil two lessons we can nevertheless learn from situationism. (shrink)
To fully understand human language, an evolved trait that develops in the young without formal instruction, it must be possible to observe language that has not been influenced by instruction. But in modern societies, much of the language that is used, and most of the language that is measured, is confounded by literacy and academic training. This diverts empirical attention from natural habits of speech, causing theorists to miss critical features of linguistic practice. To dramatize this point, I examine (...) data from a special population––the canal boat children of early twentieth century England––whose language developed without academic influence, but was evaluated using instruments designed primarily for academic use. These data, taken together with related research, suggest that formal instruction can convert language from a purely biological trait that was selected, to a talent that was instructed, while altering the users of language themselves. I then review research indicating that formal instruction can also mask or distort inter-sexual differences in the social applications of language, a significant handicap to evolutionary theorizing. I conclude that if biological theories of language are to succeed, they must explain the spontaneous speaking practices of naturally behaving individuals. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship of various trait emotions to the ethical choices of 189 college students who completed a managerial decision-making task as part of an in-basket exercise in a laboratory setting. Prior research regarding emotion influences on ethical decision-making and linkages between emotions and cognition informed hypotheses about how different types of emotions impact ethical choices. Findings supported our expectations that positive and negative emotions classified as active would be more strongly related to interpersonally-directed ethical choices than (...) to organizationally-directed ones, and that passive emotions would be less related to ethical choices than active emotions. Implications for ethical decision-making research and organizational practices are discussed. (shrink)
We evaluate the consistency of different constructs affecting risk attitude in individuals’ decisions across different levels of risk. Specifically, we contrast views suggesting that risk attitude is a single primitive construct with those suggesting it consists of multiple latent components. Additionally, we evaluate such constructs as sensitivity to losses, diminishing sensitivity to increases in payoff, sensitivity to variance, and risk acceptance (the willingness to accept probable outcomes over certainty). In search of trait-like constructs, the paper reviews experimental results focusing (...) on the consistency of these constructs in different tasks as well as their temporal consistency. Overall, the findings show that the most consistent factor is risk acceptance, and they also demonstrate its potential boundaries. These results are modeled with a simple quantitative index of subjective risk. A survey of decisions under risk further reveals that participants exhibit almost no consistency across different tasks in this setting, highlighting the advantage of experiential tasks for studying individual differences. (shrink)
Because of their elementary significance in almost all fields of science, measures of association between two variables or traits are abundant and multiform. One aspect of association that is of considerable interest, especially in population genetics and ecology, seems to be widely ignored. This aspect concerns association between complex traits that show variable and arbitrarily defined state differences. Among such traits are genetic characters controlled by many and potentially polyploid loci, species characteristics, and environmental variables, all of which may be (...) mutually and asymmetrically associated. A concept of directed association of one trait with another is developed here that relies solely on difference measures between the states of a trait. Associations are considered at three levels: between individual states of two variables, between an individual state of one variable and the totality of the other variable, and between two variables. Relations to known concepts of association are identified. In particular, measures at the latter two levels turn out to be interpretable as measures of differentiation. Examples are given for areas of application (search for functional relationships, distribution of variation over populations, genomic associations, spatiogenetic structure). (shrink)
The authors outline research strategies that may identify the possible adaptive value of a trait. But this does not solve the problem of how to decide which characteristics of living organisms require an adaptive explanation. I suggest that knowledge of the ontogenetic and phylogenetic construction of a trait facilitates the identification of features that may have been acted on by natural selection.
Early theorists (Freud and Darwin) speculated that extremely shy children, or those with anxious temperament, were likely to have anxiety problems as adults. More recent studies demonstrate that these children have heightened responses to potentially threatening situations reacting with intense defensive responses that are characterized by behavioral inhibition (BI) (inhibited motor behavior and decreased vocalizations) and physiological arousal. Confirming the earlier impressions, data now demonstrate that children with this disposition are at increased risk to develop anxiety, depression, and comorbid substance (...) abuse. Additional key features of anxious temperament are that it appears at a young age, it is a stable characteristic of individuals, and even in non-threatening environments it is associated with increased psychic anxiety and somatic tension. To understand the neural underpinnings of anxious temperament, we performed imaging studies with 18- fluoro-deoxyglucose (FDG) high-resolution Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in young rhesus monkeys. Rhesus monkeys were used because they provide a well validated model of anxious temperament for studies that cannot be performed in human children. Imaging the same animal in stressful and secure contexts, we examined the relation between regional metabolic brain activity and a trait-like measure of anxious temperament that encompasses measures of BI and pituitaryadrenal reactivity. Regardless of context, results demonstrated a trait-like pattern of brain activity (amygdala, bed nucleus of stria terminalis, hippocampus, and periaqueductal gray) that is predictive of individual phenotypic differences. Importantly, individuals with extreme anxious temperament also displayed increased activity of this circuit when assessed in the security of their home environment. These findings suggest that increased activity of this circuit early in life mediates the childhood temperamental risk to develop anxiety and depression.. (shrink)
Vallortigara & Rogers's (V&R's) proposal that directional asymmetries evolved under social pressures raises questions about the ontogenetic mechanisms subserving the alignment of asymmetries in a population. Neuro-ontogenetic principles suggest that epigenetic factors are decisively involved in the determination of individual lateralization and that genetic factors align their direction. Clearly, directional asymmetry has an epigenetic trait.
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.
This commentary speaks to the relationship between Depue & Marrone-Strupinsky's (D&M-S's) concept of trait affiliation and affiliative memory and the formation of human community, especially among peer groups. The target article suggests a model for how and why dynamic communities form in a number of disparate contexts and under a number of circumstances.
The function of a trait token is usually defined in terms of some properties of other (past, present, future) tokens of the same trait type. I argue that this strategy is problematic, as trait types are (at least partly) individuated by their functional properties, which would lead to circularity. In order to avoid this problem, I suggest a way to define the function of a trait token in terms of the properties of the very same (...) class='Hi'>trait token. To able to allow for the possibility of malfunctioning, some of these properties need to be modal ones: a function of a trait is to do F just in case its doing F would contribute to the inclusive fitness of the organism whose trait it is. Function attributions have modal force. Finally, I explore whether and how this theory of biological function could be modified to cover artifact function. (shrink)
While schizophrenia may be genetically determined up to a point, neither it nor its nearest relatives offer any sort of reproductive advantage to its sufferers. Instead, from an evolutionary point of view, schizophrenia is benign – it neither promotes nor inhibits survival to reproduction. Because it is benign, its rate of occurrence should remain fairly constant over time.
In this article, the authors examine and debate the categories of emotions, moods, temperaments, character traits and sentiments. They define them and offer an account of the relations that exist among the phenomena they cover. They argue that, whereas ascribing character traits and sentiments (dispositions) is to ascribe a specific coherence and stability to the emotions (episodes) the subject is likely to feel, ascribing temperaments (dispositions) is to ascribe a certain stability to the subject’s moods (episodes). The rationale for this (...) distinction, the authors claim, lies in the fact that, whereas appeal to character traits or sentiments in explanation is tantamount to making sense of a given behaviour in terms of an individual’s specific evaluative perspective — as embodied in this individual’s emotional profile — appeal to temperaments makes sense of it independently of any such evaluative perspective. (shrink)
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 (...) that we have traits, so I am advancing an error theory, which means that I owe an account of why we fall into error. Why do we feel so comfortable navigating the language of traits if we lack knowledge of them? To answer this question, I refer to a slew of heuristics and biases. Some, like the fundamental attribution error, the false consensus effect, and the power of construal, pertain directly to trait attributions. Others are more general cognitive heuristics and biases whose relevance to trait attributions requires explanation and can be classed under the headings of input heuristics and biases and processing heuristics and biases. Input heuristics and biases include selection bias, availability bias, availability cascade, and anchoring. Processing heuristics and biases include disregard of base rates, disregard of regression to the mean, and confirmation bias. (shrink)
The prevailing concept in modern cognitive neuroscience is that cognitive functions are performed predominantly at the network level, whereas the role of individual neurons is unlikely to extend beyond forming the simple basic elements of these networks. Within this conceptual framework, individuals of outstanding cognitive abilities appear as a result of a favorable configuration of the microarchitecture of the cognitive-implicated networks, whose final formation in ontogenesis may occur in a relatively random way. Here I suggest an alternative concept, which is (...) based on neurological data and on data from human behavioral genetics. I hypothesize that cognitive functions are performed mainly at the intracellular, probably at the molecular level. Central to this hypothesis is the idea that the neurons forming the networks involved in cognitive processes are complex elements whose functions are not limited to generating electrical potentials and releasing neurotransmitters. According to this hypothesis, individuals of outstanding abilities are so due to a lucky combination of specific genes that determine the intrinsic properties of neurons involved in cognitive functions of the brain. (shrink)
It has been claimed that the intentional stance is necessary to individuate behavioral traits. This thesis, while clearly false, points to two interesting sets of problems concerning biological explanations of behavior: The first is a general in the philosophy of science: the theory-ladenness of observation. The second problem concerns the principles of trait individuation, which is a general problem in philosophy of biology. After discussing some alternatives, I show that one way of individuating the behavioral traits of an organism (...) is by a special use of the concept of biological function, as understood in an enriched causal role (not selected effect) sense. On this view, a behavioral trait is essentially a special kind of regularity, namely a regularity that is produced by some regulatory mechanism. Regulatory mechanisms always require goal states, which can only be provided by functional considerations. As an example from actual (as opposed to folk) science, I examine the case of social behavior in nematodes. I show that the attempt to explain this phenomenon actually transformed it. This supports the view that scientific explanation does not explain an explanandum phenomenon that is given prior to the explanation; rather, the explanandum is changed by the explanation. This means that there could be a plurality of stances that have some heuristic value initially, but which will be abandoned in favor of a functional characterization eventually. (shrink)
Recognizing that all traits are the result of an interaction between genes and environment, I offer a set of criteria for nevertheless making sense of our practice of singling out certain traits as genetic ones, in effect making a distinction between causes and mere conditions. The central criterion is that a trait is genetic if it is genetic differences that make the differences in that trait variable in a given population. A second criterion requires that genetic traits be (...) individuated in a way that matches what some genetic factors cause specifically. Clarifying our causal and classificatory language here can help us to avoid confusions of both theoretical and practical significance. (shrink)
We in the accounting profession have long shown an interest in presenting an ethical image. But are accountants more ethical than others in the business world? In order to answer that question, a survey was mailed to 250 lower-level accounting professionals to determine their perceptions of the importance of nineteen head and heart trait items first identified by Maccoby. The results, based on 134 replies, indicate that accountants have a higher perception of the importance of the heart traits that (...) have been associated with ethical inclinations than both managers and business students surveyed previously. However, in that head trait items still dominate in terms of importance, if accountants are more ethical, it is not to an overwhelming degree. (shrink)
The first section of this paper briefly summarizes my positive view of global helping traits. The remaining sections then develop the view in two new directions by examining the relationship between guilt, embarrassment, and helping behavior. It turns out that guilt and embarrassment reliably and cross-situationally enhance helping behavior, but in such a way that is incompatible with the nature of compassion as traditionally understood.
Lifelines supports the theme that behavioral development is a fluid, life-long phenomenon. In contrast, many emotional and cognitive traits are subject to strong genetic influence, and are highly stable over many years. The manner in which neuroplasticity and trait stability cooccur needs to be modeled. An outline of such a model is provided to promote discussion of this complex issue.
A measure of association is introduced that is based on a conceptual rather than a model approach in order to ensure its broad applicability. The basis of the concept involves two variables or traits and of members of a population. The association of the -state with the -state is measured by the degree to which members of given -state share their -state. This formulation yields an index of association, which is applicable to all categories of traits, including discontinuous and continuous (...) traits as well as combinations of these. Complete association of one trait with the other is equivalent to the existence of a functional relationship of the second to the first trait. Therefore, the degree of association can be understood as the closeness of the relations between two variables to a non-specified functional relationship. This feature in connection with the asymmetry of the index attests its suitability for cause-effect analyses. In fact, the conceptual approach to the measurement of association yields a conclusive method of detection and description of functional relationships between variables together with a method for quantification of the strictness of these relationships. The legitimacy of the correlation coefficient and of disequilibrium indices as measures of association is briefly addressed. (shrink)
Abstract: In this article, the logic and functions of character-trait ascriptions in ethics and epistemology is compared, and two major problems, the "generality problem" for virtue epistemologies and the "global trait problem" for virtue ethics, are shown to be far more similar in structure than is commonly acknowledged. I suggest a way to put the generality problem to work by making full and explicit use of a sliding scale--a "narrow-broad spectrum of trait ascription"-- and by accounting for (...) the various uses of it in an inquiry-pragmatist account. In virtue theories informed by inquiry pragmatism, the agential habits and abilities deemed salient in explanations/evaluations of agents in particular cases, and the determination of what relevant domains and conditions an agent's habit or ability is reliably efficacious in, is determined by pragmatic concerns related to our evaluative epistemic practices. (shrink)
The first part of this article discusses recent skepticism about character traits. The second describes various forms of virtue ethics as reactions to such skepticism. The philosopher J.-P. Sartre argued in the 1940s that character traits are pretenses, a view that the sociologist E. Goffman elaborated in the 1950s. Since then social psychologists have shown that attributions of character traits tend to be inaccurate through the ignoring of situational factors. (Personality psychology has tended to concentrate on people's conceptions of personality (...) and character rather than on the accuracy of these conceptions). Similarly, the political theorist R. Hardin has argued for situational explanations of bloody social disputes in the former Yugoslavia and in Africa, rather than explanations in terms of ethnic hatred for example. A version of virtue ethics might identify virtues as characteristics of acts rather than character traits, as traits consisting in actual regularities in behavior, or as robust dispositions that would manifest themselves also in counterfactual situations. (shrink)
The Milgram and other situationist experiments support the real-life evidence that most of us are highly akratic and heteronomous, and that Aristototelian virtue is not global. Indeed, like global theoretical knowledge, global virtue is psychologically impossible because it requires too much of finite human beings with finite powers in a finite life; virtue can only be domain-specific. But unlike local, situation-specific virtues, domain-specific virtues entail some general understanding of what matters in life, and are connected conceptually and causally to our (...) traits in other domains. The experiments also make us aware of how easily unobtrusive situational factors can tap our susceptibilities to obedience, conformity, irresponsibility, cruelty, or indifference to others’ welfare, thereby empowering us to change ourselves for the better. Thus, they advance the Socratic project of living the examined life. I note a remarkable parallel between the results of the baseline Milgram experiments and the results of the learned helplessness experiments by Martin Seligman et al. This provides fresh insight into the psychology and character of the obedient Milgram subjects, and I use this insight to argue that pusillanimity, as Aristotle conceives of it, is part of a complete explanation of the behavior of the obedient Milgram subjects. (shrink)
There is concern that the use of neuroenhancements to alter character traits undermines consumer's authenticity. But the meaning, scope and value of authenticity remain vague. However, the majority of contemporary autonomy accounts ground individual autonomy on a notion of authenticity. So if neuroenhancements diminish an agent's authenticity, they may undermine his autonomy. This paper clarifies the relation between autonomy, authenticity and possible threats by neuroenhancements. We present six neuroenhancement scenarios and analyse how autonomy accounts evaluate them. Some cases are considered (...) differently by criminal courts; we demonstrate where academic autonomy theories and legal reasoning diverge and ascertain whether courts should reconsider their concept of autonomy. We argue that authenticity is not an appropriate condition for autonomy and that new enhancement technologies pose no unique threats to personal autonomy. (shrink)
This study examined correlations between moral value judgments on a 17-item Moral Intuition Survey (MIS), and participant scores on the Short-D3 “Dark Triad” Personality Inventory—a measure of three related “dark and socially destructive” personality traits: Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy. Five hundred sixty-seven participants (302 male, 257 female, 2 transgendered; median age 28) were recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk and Yale Experiment Month web advertisements. Different responses to MIS items were initially hypothesized to be “conservative” or “liberal” in line with (...) traditional public divides. Our demographic data confirmed all of these hypothesized categorizations. We then tested two broad, exploratory hypotheses: (H1) the hypothesis that there would be “many” significant correlations between conservative MIS judgments and the Dark Triad, and (H2) the hypothesis that there would be no significant correlations between liberal MIS judgments and Machiavellianism or Psychopathy, but “some” significant correlations between liberal MIS judgments and Narcissism. Because our hypotheses were exploratory and we ran a large number of statistical tests (62 total), we utilized a Bonferroni Correction to set a very high threshold for significance (p = .0008). Our results broadly supported our two hypotheses. We found eleven significant correlations between conservative MIS judgments and the Dark Triad—all at significance level of p < .00001—but no significant correlations between the Dark Triad and liberal MIS judgments. We believe that these results raise provocative moral questions about the personality bases of moral judgments. In particular, we propose that because the Short-D3 measures three “dark and antisocial” personality traits, our results raise some prima facie worries about the moral justification of some conservative moral judgments. (shrink)
The central virtue at issue in recent philosophical discussions of the empirical adequacy of virtue ethics has been the virtue of compassion. Opponents of virtue ethics such as Gilbert Harman and John Doris argue that experimental results from social psychology concerning helping behavior are best explained not by appealing to so-called ‘global’ character traits like compassion, but rather by appealing to external situational forces or, at best, to highly individualized ‘local’ character traits. In response, a number of philosophers have argued (...) that virtue ethics can accommodate the empirical results in question. My own view is that neither side of this debate is looking in the right direction. For there is an impressive array of evidence from the social psychology literature which suggests that many people do possess one or more robust global character traits pertaining to helping others in need. But at the same time, such traits are noticeably different from a traditional virtue like compassion. (shrink)
In a recent study appearing in Neuroethics, I reported observing 11 significant correlations between the “Dark Triad” personality traits – Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy – and “conservative” judgments on a 17-item Moral Intuition Survey. Surprisingly, I observed no significant correlations between the Dark Triad and “liberal” judgments. In order to determine whether these results were an artifact of the particular issues I selected, I ran a follow-up study testing the Dark Triad against conservative and liberal judgments on 15 additional moral (...) issues. The new issues examined include illegal immigration, abortion, the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools, the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the war on terrorism, laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and environmentalism. 1154 participants (680 male, 472 female; median age 29), recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk, completed three surveys: a 15-item Moral Intuition Survey (MIS), the 28-item Short Dark Triad personality inventory, and a five-item demographic survey. The results strongly reinforce my earlier findings. Twenty-two significant correlations were observed between “conservative” judgments and the Dark Triad (all of which were significant past a Bonferonni-corrected significance threshold of p = .0008), compared to seven significant correlations between Dark Triad and “liberal” judgments (only one of which was significant past p = .0008). This article concludes by developing a novel research proposal for determining whether the results of my two studies are “bad news” for conservatives or liberals. (shrink)
Character traits have several vital functions. They should enable us to assess others morally, inform us of others’ behavioral tendencies, and accurately explain and predict others’ behavior. But traits of character, as they have traditionally been understood, cannot adequately serve these purposes. For character traits are traditionally thought to be context-insensitive. The Contextual Account of Character Traits, which I here develop and defend, posits traits that are context-sensitive. Context-sensitive character traits are more receptive to the complexity of human psychology and (...) behavior and, hence, they not only adequately, but excellently, satisfy their theoretic and pragmatic functions. (shrink)
Two radically different, general accounts of human character traits - the "essentialist" and the "summary" accounts - are given critical consideration. The former account is characterized in terms of Saul Kripke's conception of metaphysical essence. Both accounts are discussed with reference to Jean-Paul Sartre's treatment of character traits. The essentialist account cannot withstand considerations relating to personal identity over time. The summary account is also rejected, as is a certain kind of dispositional account. An approach to at least some character (...) traits in terms of persisting aims, beliefs, and so on is recommended. (shrink)
I have recently argued that origin essentialism regarding individual organisms entails that natural selection does not explain why individual organisms have the traits that they do. This paper defends this and related theses against Mohan Matthen's recent objections.
The DSM-III, DSM-IV, DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10 have judiciously minimized discussion of etiologies to distance clinical psychiatry from Freudian psychoanalysis. With this goal mostly achieved, discussion of etiological factors should be reintroduced into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). A research agenda for the DSM-V advocated the "development of a pathophysiologically based classification system". The author critically reviews the neuroevolutionary literature on stress-induced and fear circuitry disorders and related amygdala-driven, species-atypical fear behaviors of clinical severity in (...) adult humans. Over 30 empirically testable/falsifiable predictions are presented. It is noted that in DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10, the classification of stress and fear circuitry disorders is neither mode-of-acquisition-based nor brain-evolution-based. For example, snake phobia (innate) and dog phobia (overconsolidational) are clustered together. Similarly, research on blood-injection-injury-type-specific phobia clusters two fears different in their innateness: 1) an arguably ontogenetic memory-trace-overconsolidation-based fear (hospital phobia) and 2) a hardwired (innate) fear of the sight of one's blood or a sharp object penetrating one's skin. Genetic architecture-charting of fear-circuitry-related traits has been challenging. Various, non-phenotype-based architectures can serve as targets for research. In this article, the author will propose one such alternative genetic architecture. This article was inspired by the following: A) Nesse's "Smoke-Detector Principle", B) the increasing suspicion that the "smooth" rather than "lumpy" distribution of complex psychiatric phenotypes (including fear-circuitry disorders) may in some cases be accounted for by oligogenic (and not necessarily polygenic) transmission, and C) insights from the initial sequence of the chimpanzee genome and comparison with the human genome by the Chimpanzee Sequencing and Analysis Consortium published in late 2005. Neuroevolutionary insights relevant to fear circuitry symptoms that primarily emerge overconsolidationally (especially Combat related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) are presented. Also introduced is a human-evolution-based principle for clustering innate fear traits. The "Neuroevolutionary Time-depth Principle" of innate fears proposed in this article may be useful in the development of a neuroevolution-based taxonomic re-clustering of stress-triggered and fear-circuitry disorders in DSM-V. Four broad clusters of evolved fear circuits are proposed based on their time-depths: 1) Mesozoic (mammalian-wide) circuits hardwired by wild-type alleles driven to fixation by Mesozoic selective sweeps; 2) Cenozoic (simian-wide) circuits relevant to many specific phobias; 3) mid Paleolithic and upper Paleolithic (Homo sapiens-specific) circuits (arguably resulting mostly from mate-choice-driven stabilizing selection); 4) Neolithic circuits (arguably mostly related to stabilizing selection driven by gene-culture co-evolution). More importantly, the author presents evolutionary perspectives on warzone-related PTSD, Combat-Stress Reaction, Combat-related Stress, Operational-Stress, and other deployment-stress-induced symptoms. The Neuroevolutionary Time-depth Principle presented in this article may help explain the dissimilar stress-resilience levels following different types of acute threat to survival of oneself or one's progency (aka DSM-III and DSM-V PTSD Criterion-A events). PTSD rates following exposure to lethal inter-group violence (combat, warzone exposure or intentionally caused disasters such as terrorism) are usually 5-10 times higher than rates following large-scale natural disasters such as forest fires, floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. The author predicts that both intentionally-caused large-scale bioevent-disasters, as well as natural bioevents such as SARS and avian flu pandemics will be an exception and are likely to be followed by PTSD rates approaching those that follow warzone exposure. During bioevents, Amygdala-driven and locus-coeruleus-driven epidemic pseudosomatic symptoms may be an order of magnitude more common than infection-caused cytokine-driven symptoms. Implications for the red cross and FEMA are discussed. It is also argued that hospital phobia as well as dog phobia, bird phobia and bat phobia require re-taxonomization in DSM-V in a new "overconsolidational disorders" category anchored around PTSD. The overconsolidational spectrum category may be conceptualized as straddling the fear circuitry spectrum disorders and the affective spectrum disorders categories, and may be a category for which Pitman's secondary prevention propranolol regimen may be specifically indicated as a "morning after pill" intervention. Predictions are presented regarding obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (e.g., female-pattern hoarding vs. male-pattern hoarding) and "culture-bound" acute anxiety symptoms (taijin-kyofusho, koro, shuk yang, shook yong, suo yang, rok-joo, jinjinia-bemar, karoshi, gwarosa, Voodoo death). Also discussed are insights relevant to pseudoneurological symptoms and to the forthcoming Dissociative-Conversive disorders category in DSM-V, including what the author terms fright-triggered acute pseudo-localized symptoms (i.e., pseudoparalysis, pseudocerebellar imbalance, psychogenic blindness, pseudoseizures, and epidemic sociogenic illness). Speculations based on studies of the human abnormal-spindle-like, microcephaly-associated (ASPM) gene, the microcephaly primary autosomal recessive (MCPH) gene, and the forkhead box p2 (FOXP2) gene are made and incorporated into what is termed "The pre-FOXP2 Hypothesis of Blood-Injection-Injury Phobia." Finally, the author argues for a non-reductionistic fusion of "distal (evolutionary) neurobiology" with clinical "proximal neurobiology," utilizing neurological heuristics. It is noted that the value of re-clustering fear traits based on behavioral ethology, human-phylogenomics-derived endophenotypes and on ontogenomics (gene-environment interactions) can be confirmed or disconfirmed using epidemiological or twin studies and psychiatric genomics. (shrink)
Although the search for universal human traits is necessarily the principle focus of researchers in evolutionary psychology, the habitual reliance on undergraduate students introduces profound doubts concerning resulting data. Furthermore, the absence of relevant data from foraging societies undermines claims of cross-cultural universality in this paper and in many others.
In a number of recent papers, I have begun to develop a new theory of character which is conceptually distinct both from traditional Aristotelian accounts as well as from the positive view of local traits outlined by John Doris. On my view, many human beings do have robust traits of character which play an important explanatory and predictive role, but which are triggered by certain situational variables which preclude them from counting as genuine Aristotelian virtues. Like others in this discussion, (...) I have focused on helping behavior in particular, and have gone on to argue that much of the social psychology literature is compatible with this new approach. The goal of this paper is to develop the model as it pertains to helping behavior further by examining how helping-relevant traits can serve as impediments to helping behavior. (shrink)
A theory of rationality evaluates actions and actors as rational or irrational. Assessing preferences themselves as rational or irrational is contrary to the orthodox view of rational choice. The orthodox view takes preferences as given, holding them beyond reproach, and assesses actions as rational or irrational depending on whether the actions tend to serve as effective means to the satisfaction of the given preferences. Against this view, this paper argues that preferences themselvesare indeed proper objects of rational evaluation. This evaluation (...) of preferences is driven by whether holding and acting on them conduces to, or interferes with the satisfaction of other, more important preferences. Taking the lead from methods in moral theory of holding individuals responsible for their moral or immoral character traits, this paper goes on to sketch parallel ways of determining an agent’s rational responsibility for her rational or irrational preferences. (shrink)
E. O. Wilson (1974: 54) describes the problem that social organisms pose: “On what bases do we distinguish the extremely modified members of an invertebrate colony from the organs of a metazoan animal?” This framing of the issue has inspired many to look more closely at how groups of organisms form and behave as emergent individuals. The possible existence of “superorganisms” test our best intuitions about what can count and act as genuine biological individuals and how we should study them. (...) As we will discuss, colonies of certain organisms display many of the properties that we usually reserve only to individual organisms. Although there is good reason to believe that many social insects form genuine emergent biological individuals, the conclusion offered here is of a slightly different sort. I will argue that to understand some social insects' interactions and the emergent traits they give rise to, it may be helpful to shift our understanding from a community-level approach to an ecosystem-level approach. I will argue that viewing certain insect colonies (termites) as parts of ecosystems allows us to better understand some of the adaptations that have emerged from their evolution. (shrink)
Commentary on our target article centers around six main topics: (1) strategies in modeling the neurobehavioral foundation of human behavioral traits; (2) clarification of the construct of affiliation; (3) developmental aspects of affiliative bonding; (4) modeling disorders of affiliative reward; (5) serotonin and affiliative behavior; and (6) neural considerations. After an initial important research update in section R1, our Response is organized around these topics in the following six sections, R2 to R7.
DNA profiling is a well-established technology for use in the criminal justice system, both in courtrooms and elsewhere. The fact that DNA profiles are based on non-coding DNA and do not reveal details about the physical appearance of an individual has contributed to the acceptability of this type of evidence. Its success in criminal investigation, combined with major innovations in the field of genetics, have contributed to a change of role for this type of evidence. Nowadays DNA evidence is not (...) merely about identification, where trace evidence is compared to a sample taken from a suspect. An ever-growing role is anticipated for DNA profiling as an investigative tool, a technique aimed at generating a suspect where there is none. One of these applications is the inference of visible traits. As this article will show, racial classifications are at the heart of this application. The Netherlands and its legal regulation of 'externally visible traits' will serve as an example. It will be shown that, to make this technology work, a large number of actors has to be enrolled and their articulations invited. This indicates that instead of a 'silent witness', a DNA profile should rather be seen as an 'articulate collective'. Based on two cases, I argue that the normativity of visible traits is context-dependent. Taking into account the practices in which technology is put to use alerts us to novel ethical questions raised by their application. (shrink)
According to the received view in biology, genes code for phenotypic traits during development. However, there are reasons to think that the massively distributed character of the causal systems underlying development is in tension with such representational talk about genes. The main contenders from the literature that purport to establish that genes are genuine coding elements in development fail to meet this challenge. An alternative and superior strategy for understanding and justifying coding talk in development turns on the fact that (...) the process of protein synthesis exhibits the interlocking architectural features of arbitrariness and homuncularity. However, this proposal turns out to have the radical implication that it is mRNA, not DNA, that codes. Moreover, for any of the available strategies, including the one recommended here, there is a serious and unresolved issue surrounding the attempt to extend the reach of coding talk from proteins to traits. (shrink)
Introduction -- Global traits of character -- Traits as dispositions -- Situational traits of character -- Situational traits and social psychology -- Situational traits and the friendly consequentialist.
Rose seems to be arguing against an extreme ultra-Darwinism that probably has no adherents. He incorrectly argues that a number of psychological traits are very difficult to measure. This is not the case. Rose argues that intelligence has no biological correlates. In fact, it is correlated with brain size, EEG evoked potentials, and cerebral glucose uptake during problem solving. Data that Rose should be aware of are omitted when they do not fit the case he is trying to make.
The present study examines the relationships between consumers'' ethical beliefs and personality traits. Based on a survey of 295 undergraduate business students, the authors found that individuals with high needs for autonomy, innovation, and aggression, as well as individuals with a high propensity for taking risks tend to have less ethical beliefs concerning possible consumer actions. Individuals with a high need for social desirability and individuals with a strong problem solving coping style tend to have more ethical beliefs concerning possible (...) consumer actions. The needs for achievement, affiliation, complexity and an emotion solving coping style were not significantly correlated with consumer ethical beliefs. (shrink)
Recently, Gilbert Harman has used empirical results obtained by social psychologists to argue that there are no character traits of the type presupposed by virtue ethics—no honesty or dishonesty, no courage or cowardice, in short, no virtue or vice. In this paper, I critically assess his argument as well as that of the social psychologists he appeals to. I suggest that the experimental results recounted by Harman would not much concern such classical virtue theorists as Plato—particularly the Plato of the (...) Republic—because they are pretty much exactly what these theorists would have predicted. The more difficult thesis that virtuous or vicious character traits exist, I do not here argue. Instead, the results of this paper focus on clarifying some of the ways in which character traits are understood by virtue ethicists, especially those who look to the classical philosophers. (shrink)
This study examines the antecedents of corporate scandals. Corporate scandals are defined as rare events occurring at the apex of corporate fame when managerial fraud suddenly emerges in conjunction with a significant gap between perceived corporate success and actual economic conditions. Previous studies on managerial fraud have examined the antecedents of illegal acts in isolation from strategic decisions and in terms of CEOs’ individual responses to the external context. This study frames the antecedents of corporate scandals in terms of the (...) interplay of CEOs’ personal traits with corporate strategy and stakeholders’ cohesion. With this aim, this study builds on extant theory to examine the case of Banca Popolare di Lodi, an Italian bank involved in a corporate scandal in year 2005. The model contributes to advance understanding of the complex dynamics underlying the emergence of corporate scandals. (shrink)
Modern efforts to model cultural transmission have struggled to identify a unit of cultural transmission and particular transmission processes. Anthropologists of the early twentieth century discussed cultural traits as units of transmission equivalent to recipes (rules and ingredients) and identified integration as a signature process and effect of transmission. (Published Online November 9 2006).
The commentaries on our target article address three main areas: (1) the relative importance of extraversion and other related traits to DA functioning, (2) how the long-term stability of extraversion can be conceptualized within a highly plastic central nervous system, and (3) the nature of DA functioning in the MOC network and in extraversion. We have organized our Response, therefore, into three major sections.
The American Scholar An Address, Man the Reformer, Self-Reliance, Compensation, Friendship, Heroism, The Over-Soul, Circles, The Poet, Character, Manners, Essays: Gifts, Nature, Politics, New England Reformers Worship, Beauty -/- English Traits -/- (Harvard Classics, Vol. V.).
Simple models for the evolution of qualitative multistate traits are considered, in which the traits are permitted to evolve in time-dependent versus speciation-dependent fashion. Of particular interest are the means and variances of distances for these traits in evolutionary phylads characterized by different rates of speciation, when alternative characters are neutral with respect to fitness, and when the total number of observable characters is limited to small values. As attainable character states are increasingly restricted, mean distance (D) in a phylad (...) decreases, regardless of whether evolution is a function of time or of rate of speciation. The ratio of mean distances in species-rich and species-poor phylads of comparable evolutionary age (DR/DP) remains near one when differentiation is proportional to time, even when attainable character states are severely restricted. DR/DP also nears one as a result of restricting character states when differentiation is proportional to rate of speciation, but the effect is not severe unless the number of character states is very small and the probability of change per speciation very large. These and other results are discussed with reference to available data sets on qualitative multistate traits. (shrink)
Du point de vue relativiste, la juridicite du droit a ete souvent mise en cause, en tant que norme inventee seulement par ou pour l'homme faible, inapte, bourgeois ou occidental. Cette critique s'attaque particulierement aux droits de l'homme auxquels la mobilisation dune certaine opinion africaine voudrait cependant ajouter le droit aux reparations des prejudices subis pendant l'esclavage et la Traite des Noirs. Souvent ou facilement reduit au droit du plus faible, ce droit semble cependant avoir quelque chance d'etre au moins (...) lu dans un contexte favorable de progres de la conscience morale universelle attestee. (shrink)
Previous research into human traits has reached impressive consensus regarding at least some traits, but recent evidence suggests these to be genetically heterogeneous. This is problematic for theories of the neurobiology of human traits. Future research should more closely integrate genetic, behavioral, and psychometric research to arrive at biologically validated measurement instruments, which may be better used to understand the mediating role of these traits in the association between genetic variants and complex behaviors.
The aim of the present paper is to find a satisfactory way of understanding what traits are. As a starting point, two recent accounts of the nature of traits, the act frequency approach and the intention frequency approach, are presented and discussed. The act frequency approach is criticized for taking all traits to be behavioral dispositions, and for not offering any explanation of behavior. The intention frequency approach is criticized for being equally one-sided in regarding all traits as mental frequency (...) dispositions. It is claimed that some traits are purely behavioral, that some are behavioral and mental, and that some are purely mental. Finally, it is argued that mental phenomena like beliefs and desires, the phenomena that make up reasons for and explain actions, are not frequency dispositions. They are dispositional properties of another kind, namely abilities, capacities or powers. (shrink)
Examining homology in biological and cultural evolution is of great importance in investigations of humanity. The proposal presented in the target article retains substantial methodological weaknesses in the identification and use of “cultural traits.” However, with refined toolkits and the incorporation of recent advances in evolutionary theory, this overall endeavor can result in substantial payoffs for biological and social scientists. (Published Online November 9 2006).
Natural selection of asymmetric traits operates at multiple levels. Some asymmetric traits (like having a dominant eye) are tied to more universal aspects of the environment and are coded genetically, while others (like pedestrian turning biases) are tied to more ephemeral patterns and are largely learned. Species-wide trends of asymmetry can be better modeled when different levels of natural selection are specified.
This monograph links moral theory and legal reasoning in the context of attempts to choose (or, more accurately, influence) human traits before birth. An analytical framework, developed in the first few chapters, is used to critique the regulatory approaches adopted in seventeen countries (the then 15 member states of the EU, Canada and the US). This analytic framework is developed by applying the tenets of Alan Gewirth’s Principle of Generic Consistency to the multivariable epistemic uncertainties evoked by practical ethical problems. (...) The result is an interdisciplinary text seeking to bridge the theoretical gap between abstract moral theory, modern scientific developments and the law. It thereby addresses the moral and legal issues raised by techniques and technologies such as abortion, preimplantation genetic diagnosis and germ-line gene therapy. (shrink)
Situationist social psychologists tell us that information about people’s distinctive character traits, opinions, attitudes, values, or past behavior is not as useful for determining what they will do as is information about the details of their situations.1 One would expect, they say, that the possessor of a given character trait (such as helpfulness) would behave consistently (helpfully) across situations that are similar in calling for the relevant (helping) behavior, but under experimental conditions, people’s behavior is not found to be (...) cross-situationally consistent (the likelihood that a person who has behaved helpfully on one occasion will behave helpfully on the next is hardly above chance).2 Instead, across a range of situations, the person’s behavior tends to converge on the behavioral norm for those situations. So situationists reason that people’s situations, rather than their characters, are the explanatorily powerful factors in determining why different people behave differently. They add that if behavior does not covary with character traits, then ordinary people, “folk psychologists” who try to explain and predict.. (shrink)
Lorenz proposed in his (1935) articulation of a theory of behavioral instincts that the objective of ethology is to distinguish behaviors that are innate from behaviors that are learned (or acquired). Lorenzs motive was to open the investigation of certain adaptive behaviors to evolutionary theorizing. Accordingly, since innate behaviors are genetic, they are open to such investigation. By Lorenzs light an innate/acquired or learned dichotomy rested on a familiar Darwinian distinction between genes and environments. Ever since Lorenz, ascriptions of innateness (...) have become widespread in the cognitive, behavioral, and biological sciences. The trend continues despite decades of strong arguments that show, in particular, the dichotomy that Lorenz invoked in his theory of behavioral instincts is literally false: no biological trait is the product of genes alone. Some critics suggest that the failure of Lorenzs account shows that innateness is not well-defined in biology and the practice of ascribing innateness to various biological traits should be dropped from respectable science. Elsewhere (Ariew 1996) I argued that despite the arguments of critics, there really is a biological phenomenon underlying the concept of innateness. On my view, innateness is best understood in terms of C.H. Waddingtons concept of canalization, i.e. the degree to which a trait is innate is the degree to which its developmental outcome is canalized. The degree to which a developmental outcome is canalized is the degree to which the developmental process is bound to produce a particular endstate despite environmental fluctuations both in the developments initial state and during the course of development. The canalization account differs in many ways to the traditional ways that ethologists such as Konrad Lorenz originally understood the concept of innateness. Most importantly, on the canalization account the distinction between innate and acquired is not a dichotomy, as Konrad Lorenz had it, but rather a matter of degree difference that lies along a spectrum with highly canalized development outcomes on the one end and highly environmentally sensitive development outcomes on the other end. Nevertheless, I justified the canalization account on the basis of a set of desiderata or criteria that I suggested falls-out of what seemed uncontroversial about Lorenzs account of innateness (briefly): innateness is a property of a developing individual, innateness denotes environmental stability, and innate-ascriptions are useful in certain natural selection explanations (more below). From that same set of desiderata I argued (in my 1996) that neither the concept of heritability nor of norms of reactionstwo concepts from population geneticssuffice to ground innateness. In this essay, I wish to provide further support of the canalization account in two ways. First, I wish to better motivate the desiderata by revisiting a debate between Konrad Lorenz and Daniel Lehrman over the meaning and explanatory usefulness of innate ascriptions in ethology. Second, I wish to compare my canalization account of innateness with accounts proposed by contemporary philosophers, one by Stephen Stich (1975), another by Elliott Sober (forthcoming), and a third by William Wimsatt (1986). (shrink)
For many years the evolution of language has been seen as a disreputable topic, mired in fanciful “just so stories” about language origins. However, in the last decade a new synthesis of modern linguistics, cognitive neuroscience and neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory has begun to make important contributions to our understanding of the biology and evolution of language. I review some of this recent progress, focusing on the value of the comparative method, which uses data from animal species to draw inferences about (...) language evolution. Discussing speech first, I show how data concerning a wide variety of species, from monkeys to birds, can increase our understanding of the anatomical and neural mechanisms underlying human spoken language, and how bird and whale song provide insights into the ultimate evolutionary function of language. I discuss the “descended larynx” of humans, a peculiar adaptation for speech that has received much attention in the past, which despite earlier claims is not uniquely human. Then I will turn to the neural mechanisms underlying spoken language, pointing out the difficulties animals apparently experience in perceiving hierarchical structure in sounds, and stressing the importance of vocal imitation in the evolution of a spoken language. Turning to ultimate function, I suggest that communication among kin (especially between parents and offspring) played a crucial but neglected role in driving language evolution. Finally, I briefly discuss phylogeny, discussing hypotheses that offer plausible routes to human language from a non-linguistic chimp-like ancestor. I conclude that comparative data from living animals will be key to developing a richer, more interdisciplinary understanding of our most distinctively human trait: language. (shrink)
Virtue consequentialism has been held by many prominent philosophers, but has never been properly formulated. I criticize Julia Driver's formulation of virtue consequentialism and offer an alternative. I maintain that according to the best version of virtue consequentialism, attributions of virtue are really disguised comparisons between two character traits, and the consequences of a trait in non-actual circumstances may affect its actual status as a virtue or vice. Such a view best enables the consequentialist to account for moral luck, (...) unexemplified virtues, and virtues and vices involving the prevention of goodness and badness. (shrink)
In evolutionary biology changes in population structure are explained by citing trait fitness distribution. I distinguish three interpretations of fitness explanations—the Two‐Factor Model, the Single‐Factor Model, and the Statistical Interpretation—and argue for the last of these. These interpretations differ in their degrees of causal commitment. The first two hold that trait fitness distribution causes population change. Trait fitness explanations, according to these interpretations, are causal explanations. The last maintains that trait fitness distribution correlates with population change (...) but does not cause it. My defense of the Statistical Interpretation relies on a distinctive feature of causation. Causes conform to the Sure Thing Principle. Trait fitness distributions, I argue, do not. *Received July 2009; revised October 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy/Institute for the History, Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, Victoria College, 91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7, Canada; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
I suggest a pluralistic account of folk psychology according to which not all predictions or explanations rely on the attribution of mental states, and not all intentional actions are explained by mental states. This view of folk psychology is supported by research in developmental and social psychology. It is well known that people use personality traits to predict behavior. I argue that trait attribution is not shorthand for mental state attributions, since traits are not identical to beliefs or desires, (...) and an understanding of belief or desire is not necessary for using trait attributions. In addition, we sometimes predict and explain behavior through appeal to personality traits that the target wouldn't endorse, and so could not serve as the target's reasons. I conclude by suggesting that our folk psychology includes the notion that some behavior is explained by personality traits—who the person is—rather than by beliefs and desires—what the person thinks. Consequences of this view for the debate between simulation theory and theory theory, as well as the debate on chimpanzee theory of mind are discussed. (shrink)
The evaluations involved in shame are, intuitively at least, of many different sorts. One feels ashamed when seen by others doing something one would prefer doing alone (social shame). One is ashamed because of one’s ugly nose (shame about permanent traits). One feels ashamed of one’s dishonest behavior (moral shame), etc. The variety of evaluations in shame is striking; and it is even more so if one takes a cross-cultural perspective on this emotion. So the difficulty – the “unity problem” (...) of shame- turns out to be the following: is there a common trait shared by all shame evaluations that will allow us to differentiate these evaluations from those that feature in other negative self-reflexive emotions like anger at oneself or self disappointment? Some progress is perhaps accomplished if we say that, in shame, a given trait or behavior is evaluated as degrading or as revealing one’s lack of worth. Still, even if we agree with this last claim, truth is that these answers are less illuminating than we might wish. A theory of shame should surely further elucidate the aspect of one’s identity relevant for shame, namely, the self of shame. In this connexion, philosophers have referred to “self-esteem,” “self-respect” or the “social self,” significantly disagreeing thus on which aspect of one’s identity is at stake in shame. After critically discussing the different solutions to the problem, we offer our own. Shame, we claim, consists in an awareness of a distinctive inability to discharge a commitment that goes with holding self-relevant values. This conception solves the unity problem while illuminating other aspects of this emotion. (shrink)
The predominant view of moral virtue can be traced back to Aristotle. He believed that moral virtue must involve intellectual excellence. To have moral virtue one must have practical wisdom - the ability to deliberate well and to see what is morally relevant in a given context. Julia Driver challenges this classical theory of virtue, arguing that it fails to take into account virtues which do seem to involve ignorance or epistemic defect. Some 'virtues of ignorance' are counterexamples to accounts (...) of virtue which hold that moral virtue must involve practical wisdom. Modesty, for example, is generally considered to be a virtue even though the modest person may be making an inaccurate assessment of his or her accomplishments. Driver argues that we should abandon the highly intellectualist view of virtue and instead adopt a consequentialist perspective which holds that virtue is simply a character trait which systematically produces good consequences. (shrink)
Philosophers of evolutionary biology favor the so-called etiological concept of function according to which the function of a trait is its evolutionary purpose, defined as the effect for which that trait was favored by natural selection. We term this the selected effect (SE) analysis of function. An alternative account of function was introduced by Robert Cummins in a non-evolutionary and non-purposive context. Cummins''s account has received attention but little support from philosophers of biology. This paper will show that (...) a similar non-purposive concept of function, which we term causal role (CR) function, is crucial to certain research programs in evolutionary biology, and that philosophical criticisms of Cummins''s concept are ineffective in this scientific context. Specifically, we demonstrate that CR functions are a vital and ineliminable part of research in comparative and functional anatomy, and that biological categories used by anatomists are not defined by the application of SE functional analysis. Causal role functions are non-historically defined, but may themselves be used in an historical analysis. Furthermore, we show that a philosophical insistence on the primary of SE functions places practicing biologists in an untenable position, as such functions can rarely be demonstrated (in contrast to CR functions). Biologists who study the form and function of organismal design recognize that it is virtually impossible to identify the past action of selection on any particular structure retrospectively, a requirement for recognizing SE functions. (shrink)
Virtue ethics is now well established as a substantive, independent normative theory. It was not always so. The revival of virtue ethics was initially spurred by influential criticisms of other normative theories, especially those made by Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, John McDowell, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Bernard Williams. 1 Because of this heritage, virtue ethics is often associated with anti-theory movements in ethics and more recently, moral particularism. There are, however, quite a few different approaches to ethics that can reasonably claim (...) to be versions of virtue ethics. The predominant strand of virtue ethics is broadly Aristotelian, although some accounts bear little resemblance to Aristotle's. In its most general form, virtue ethics is compatible with a wide range of meta-ethical and normative commitments. This diversity makes it difficult to compare virtue ethics as such with other normative theories. It can also be a challenge to see just what the various versions of virtue ethics have in common with each other. Three major types of virtue ethics are represented in the books by Rosalind Hursthouse, Michael Slote, and Christine Swanton, recommended in the following section. Each of these book sets forward a considerably self-standing form of virtue ethics. The authors differ on central issues such as the relationship between virtue and flourishing and the link between virtuous agents and right or virtuous actions. Unlike Swanton and Slote, Hursthouse defends a version of ethical naturalism that has affinities with theories recently defended by Philippa Foot and Alasdair MacIntyre. 2 Slote's theory is agent-based, meaning that his account derives judgments about the moral status of actions from moral features of agents. Hursthouse and Swanton defend theories according to which the moral status of an action depends on its broader relationship to human flourishing (Hursthouse) or whether it hits the target of a virtue (Swanton). Although these three books presently form the core of contemporary virtue ethics, there are other approaches that might reasonably be described as versions of virtue ethics, such as those presented by Julia Driver, Linda Zagzebski, and Robert Adams. 3 There are also, of course, a large number of articles in which authors defend or criticize tenets that are central to most versions of virtue ethics. Some recent articles on especially important topics are listed in the following section. Current 'hot topics' in virtue ethics include whether its account of right action is adequate and whether virtue ethics is at odds with empirical psychology. Articles on these debates and others are listed in the following section. Author Recommends: Books These three books are foundational works in contemporary virtue ethics, and represent quite different approaches to virtue ethics. For each book, I have also listed an article by the same author in which he or she articulates some similar themes. Those pressed for time or space on a syllabus might start by examining those articles. 1. Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Hursthouse defends a eudaimonistic version of virtue ethics with Aristotelian affinities. *See also Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Normative Virtue Ethics.' How Should One Live? Ed. Roger Crisp. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. 19–36. 2. Slote, Michael. Morals from Motives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Slote defends a version of virtue ethics based on evaluations of motives, drawing on historical figures like Martineau, Hutcheson, and Hume. Note that this book represents a fairly significant departure from his first book in virtue ethics, From Morality to Virtue (New York: Oxford, 1992). *See also Slote, Michael. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics.' Virtue Ethics . Ed. Roger Crisp and Michael Slote. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 3. Swanton, Christine. Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Swanton defends a pluralistic, non-eudaimonistic version of virtue ethics that draws on influences ranging from Aristotle to Nietzsche to contemporary psychoanalytic theory. *See also Swanton, Christine. 'A Virtue Ethical Account of Right Action.' Ethics 112 (2001): 32–52. Articles The following is a selection of articles that address some of the central and controversial topics within virtue ethics. 1. Annas, Julia. 'Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing.' Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 78.2 (2004): 61–75. This article addresses the problem of action guidance and the role that an account of right action should play in virtue ethics. 2. Conly, Sarah. 'Flourishing and the Failure of the Ethics of Virtue.' Midwest Studies in Philosophy Vol. XIII, Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue . Eds. P. French et al. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. 83–96. This article articulates the central problems faced by versions of virtue ethics that rely on a conception of human flourishing. 3. Das, Ramon. 'Virtue Ethics and Right Action.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2003): 324–39. This article raises objections about insularity and circularity to accounts of right action presented by Hursthouse, Slote, and Swanton. 4. Doris, John M. 'Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics.' Nous 32 (1998): 504–30. This article argues that situationist psychology undermines the concept of a character trait on which virtue ethicists rely. An expanded version of this criticism can be found in Doris, Lack of Character, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 5. Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Virtue Theory and Abortion.' Philosophy and Public Affairs 20.3 (1991): 223–46. This article argues that virtue ethics is capable of providing action guidance in the difficult problem of abortion. 6. Johnson, Robert N. 'Virtue and Right.' Ethics 113 (2003): 810–34. This article raises several objections against the accounts of right action in virtue ethics, one of which is that they cannot make sense of the rightness of self-improving actions. The criticism is directly primarily at Hursthouse's theory, but Swanton and Slote are discussed as well. 7. Kamtekar, Rachana. 'Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character.' Ethics 114 (2004): 458–91. This article argues that situationist critiques of virtue ethics rely on a mistaken understanding of virtuous character. 8. Kawall, Jason. 'Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers.' Philosophical Studies 109 (2002): 197– 222. This article argues for an ideal observer-style account of right action in virtue ethics. 9. Nussbaum, Martha. 'Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach.' Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. XIII, Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue . Ed. P. French et al. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. 32–53. This article presents a view of the virtues on which the virtues are excellences in spheres of activity. Although the spheres are common to all humans, the manifestation of excellence in a given sphere is subject to cultural variation. 10. Sreenivasan, Gopal. 'Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution.' Mind 111 (2002): 47–68. This article addresses the situationist critique of character traits by arguing that virtue ethics does not depend on the concept of a character trait as Doris and others understand it. 11. Stangl, Rebecca. 'A Dilemma for Particularist Virtue Ethics.' Philosophical Quarterly 58 (2008): 665–78. This article addresses the relationship between virtue ethics and radical moral particularism, arguing that the latter may have undesirable consequences for virtue ethicists unless they accept the unity of the virtues. 12. Stohr, Karen. 'Contemporary Virtue Ethics.' Philosophy Compass 1.1 (January 2006): 22–7. This article provides an overview and analysis of contemporary virtue ethics. It includes discussion of main problems and challenges for the future. 13. Stohr, Karen. 'Moral Cacophony: When Continence is a Virtue.' Journal of Ethics 7 (2003): 339–63. This article raises problems for the commonly accepted distinction between virtue and continence, arguing that the mixed emotions normally associated with continence are sometimes characteristic of virtue instead. 14. van Zyl, Liezl. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2009): 50–69. This article defends agent-based virtue ethics against objections that it cannot distinguish agent-appraisal from act-appraisal and that it cannot provide adequate action guidance. Anthologies 1. Crisp, Roger, ed. How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. This is one of the first virtue ethics anthologies published, and so reflects a correspondingly earlier picture of the field. The essays, however, are important and interesting in their own right, and cover a broad array of topics. 2. Crisp, Roger and Michael Slote, eds. Virtue Ethics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. This anthology was published over a decade ago and does not capture recent developments in the field. It is, however, an admirably thorough collection of the most influential essays from the early days of virtue ethics, both promoting and criticizing it. 3. Darwall, Stephen, ed. Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. This anthology is distinctive in that it includes material from Aristotle, Hutcheson, and Hume, along with some central contemporary sources. 4. Walker, Rebecca L. and Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. Working Virtue. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. This recent anthology focuses on applied virtue ethics and has an excellent selection of essays by influential thinkers on topics including the environment, business, medicine, war, and poverty. Online Sources 'Virtue Ethics', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/ Entry written by Rosalind Hursthouse and updated in 2007. 'Bibliography on Virtue Ethics', maintained by Jörg Schroth. http://www.ethikseite.de/bib/cvirtue.pdf Extensive list of work published in virtue ethics. Updated regularly, listed in both alphabetical and chronological order, and contains abstracts of papers. 'Janusblog', maintained by Guy Axtell. http://janusblog.squarespace.com/ Blog devoted to current work in virtue ethics and virtue epistemology, although with an emphasis on the latter. It contains spirited discussion among the many contributors, as well as a library of papers. Sample Syllabus This syllabus is for a graduate seminar or intense upper-level undergraduate course. Books for purchase for this course might include the Crisp and Slote anthology, the Walker and Ivanhoe anthology, and Hursthouse's On Virtue Ethics. Week 1: The Roots of Contemporary Virtue Ethics Anscombe, Elizabeth. 'Modern Moral Philosophy' (Crisp and Slote) Foot, Philippa. 'Virtues and Vices' (Crisp and Slote) MacIntyre, Alasdair. 'The Nature of the Virtues' (Crisp and Slote) Week 2: The Roots of Contemporary Virtue Ethics Stocker, Michael. 'The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories' (Crisp and Slote) Williams, Bernard. 'Morality, the Peculiar Institution' (Crisp and Slote) McDowell, John. 'Virtue and Reason' (Crisp and Slote) Week 3: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part I Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Practical Wisdom: A Mundane Account.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106.3 (2006): 283–307. Stangl, Rebecca. 'A Dilemma for Particularist Virtue Ethics' Week 4: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part II Stark, Susan. 'Virtue and Emotion.' Nous 33.5 (2001): 440–55. Stohr, Karen. 'Moral Cacophony: When Continence is a Virtue' Week 5: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part III Conly, Sarah. 'Flourishing and the Failure of an Ethics of Virtue' Nussbaum, Martha. 'Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach' MacIntyre, Alasdair. Dependent Rational Animals, chapter 10 Week 6: Agent-Based Virtue Ethics Slote, Michael 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics' (Crisp and Slote) Slote, Michael, Morals from Motives, chapters 1 and 3 Week 7: Pluralistic Virtue Ethics Swanton, Christine. Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View , chapters 3, 4, and 11. Week 8: The Situationist Critique of Virtue Ethics Doris, John. 'Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics' Kamtekar, Rachana. 'Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character' Sreenivasan, Gopal. 'Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution' Merritt, Maria. 'Aristotelian Virtue and the Interpersonal Aspect of Ethical Character.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2009): 23–49. Week 11: Right Action – Problems Johnson, Robert. 'Virtue and Right' Das, Ramon. 'Virtue Ethics and Right Action' Week 12: Right Action – Virtue Ethics Solutions Annas, Julia. 'Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing' van Zyl, Liezl. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance' Kawall, Jason. 'Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers' Week 13: Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles Pelligrino, Edmund. 'Professing Medicine, Virtue Based Ethics, and the Retrieval of Professionalism' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Swanton, Christine. 'Virtue Ethics, Role Ethics, and Business Ethics' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Sherman, Nancy. 'Virtue and a Warrier's Anger' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Week 14: Virtue Ethics and the Non-Human World Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Environmental Virtue Ethics' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Walker, Rebecca. 'The Good Life for Non-Human Animals: What Virtue Requires of Humans' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Focus Questions 1. What is the relationship between virtue and flourishing? Are the virtues necessary for flourishing? Sufficient? 2. Can virtue ethics provide an adequate account of right action? 3. On what concept of a character trait does virtue ethics rely, and does situationist psychology undermine it? 4. Is the project of ethical naturalism a plausible one? To what extent does the success of Aristotelian virtue ethics depend on it? 5. How does virtue ethics affect the way that applied ethics is done? (shrink)
Abstract The article is a reading, in conjunction with one-another, of Time and Being and What is metaphysics. Its scope is that of raising questions on certain Heideggerian topics that are here formulated as thesis. Namely, first that the turn in Heidegger’s thinking is not a change in his process of thinking, but rather an essential trait of what Heidegger calls the matter at hand (Sachverhalt). Secondly, that this turn of the matter at hand is in itself memory in (...) a twofold way: as metaphysics in its relation to being and time, and as questioning of this metaphysical relation. And finally, that this turn is a technical one, in the sense of technique as this latter is, in Heidegger’s thinking, the original determination of Being as Anwesenheit. (shrink)
In this paper I defend an etiological theory of biological functions (according to which the proper function of a trait is the effect for which it was selected by natural selection) against three objections which have been influential. I argue, contrary to Millikan, that it is wrong to base our defense of the theory on a rejection of conceptual analysis, for conceptual analysis does have an important role in philosophy of science. I also argue that biology requires a normative (...) notion of a "proper function", and that a normative notion is not ahistorical. (shrink)
Recently, there has been an increased interest in folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility from both philosophers and psychologists. We aim to extend our understanding of folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility using an individual differences approach. Building off previous research suggesting that there are systematic differences in folks’ philosophically relevant intuitions, we present new data indicating that the personality trait extraversion predicts, to a significant extent, those who have compatibilist versus incompatibilist intuitions. We argue that identifying (...) groups of people who have specific and diverse intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility offers the possibility for theoretical advancement in philosophy and psychology, and may in part explain why some perennial philosophical debates have proven intractable. (shrink)
Several philosophers have recently claimed to have discovered a new and rather significant problem with virtue ethics. According to them, virtue ethics generates certain expectations about the behavior of human beings which are subject to empirical testing. But when the relevant experimental work is done in social psychology, the results fall remarkably short of meeting those expectations. So, these philosophers think, despite its recent success, virtue ethics has far less to offer to contemporary ethical theory than might have been initially (...) thought. I argue that there are plausible ways in which virtue ethicists can resist arguments based on empirical work in social psychology. In the first three sections of the paper, I reconstruct the line of reasoning being used against virtue ethics by looking at the recent work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. The remainder of the paper is then devoted both to responding to their challenge as well as to briefly sketching a positive account of character trait possession. (shrink)
It’s recently been argued that biological fitness can’t change over the course of an organism’s life as a result of organisms’ behaviors. However, some characterizations of biological function and biological altruism tacitly or explicitly assume that an effect of a trait can change an organism’s fitness. In the first part of the paper, I explain that the core idea of changing fitness can be understood in terms of conditional probabilities defined over sequences of events in an organism’s life. The (...) result is a notion of “conditional fitness” which is static but which captures intuitions about apparent behavioral effects on fitness. The second part of the paper investigates the possibility of providing a systematic foundation for conditional fitness in terms of spaces of sequences of states of an organism and its environment. I argue that the resulting “organism–environment history conception” helps unify diverse biological perspectives, and may provide part of a metaphysics of natural selection. (shrink)
In a continuation of the conversation with Fitch, Chomsky, and Hauser on the evolution of language, we examine their defense of the claim that the uniquely human, language-speciﬁc part of the language faculty (the “narrow language faculty”) consists only of recursion, and that this part cannot be considered an adaptation to communication. We argue that their characterization of the narrow language faculty is problematic for many reasons, including its dichotomization of cognitive capacities into those that are utterly unique and those (...) that are identical to nonlinguistic or nonhuman capacities, omitting capacities that may have been substantially modiﬁed during human evolution. We also question their dichotomy of the current utility versus original function of a trait, which omits traits that are adaptations for current use, and their dichotomy of humans and animals, which conﬂates similarity due to common function and similarity due to inheritance from a recent common ancestor. We show that recursion, though absent from other animals’ communications systems, is found in visual cognition, hence cannot be the sole evolutionary development that granted language to humans. Finally, we note that despite Fitch et al.’s denial, their view of language evolution is tied to Chomsky’s conception of language itself, which identiﬁes combinatorial productivity with a core of “narrow syntax.” An alternative conception, in which combinatoriality is spread across words and constructions, has both empirical advantages and greater evolutionary plausibility. q 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Derrida has been perennially concerned with hands and touching. This interest finds its most concentrated form in On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy. This text outlines a number of concerns Derrida has in that book which might be extrapolated as exemplary of Derrida's reading strategies in general. It concludes with a consideration of what is revealed about the Derrida-Nancy relationship in this book.
Altruism is generally understood to be behavior that benefits others at a personal cost to the behaving individual. However, within evolutionary biology, different authors have interpreted the concept of altruism differently, leading to dissimilar predictions about the evolution of altruistic behavior. Generally, different interpretations diverge on which party receives the benefit from altruism and on how the cost of altruism is assessed. Using a simple trait-group framework, we delineate the assumptions underlying different interpretations and show how they relate to (...) one another. We feel that a thorough examination of the connections between interpretations not only reveals why different authors have arrived at disparate conclusions about altruism, but also illuminates the conditions that are likely to favor the evolution of altruism. (shrink)
One of the great outstanding problems in materialist philosophy of mind is the problem of how there can be space in the material world for intentionality. In the 1980s Ruth Millikan formulated a detailed theory according to which representations are physical particulars and their contents are complex relational properties of those particulars which can be specified in terms of respectable properties drawn from the natural sciences. In particular, she relied on the biological concept of the function of a trait, (...) and the existence of historical conditions which enter into an evolutionary explanation of the operation of that trait. The present article is an introduction to this influential theory of intentionality. (shrink)
Richard Rorty has argued that Donald Davidson can be classified as a neopragmatist. To this end, Rorty has tried to show that Davidson's views share important similarities with those of Peirce, James, and Dewey. Davidson, for his part, has tended to resist Rorty's attempts to classify his views in this way. Interestingly, the reasons for Rorty's classification and the reasons for Davidson's resistance share a common trait: an appeal to the elimination of the dualism of conceptual scheme and experiential (...) content on the basis of an assumed background of shared beliefs. According to Rorty, Davidson's background of shared beliefs is closely related to the notion of funded experience found in those thinkers often .. (shrink)