The fundamental attribution error and Harman's case against character traits

South African Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):350-368 (2006)

Steve Clarke
Charles Sturt University
Gilbert Harman argues that the warrant for the lay attribution of character traits is completely undermined by the “fundamental attribution error” (FAE). He takes it to have been established by social psychologists, that the FAE pervades ordinary instances of lay person perception. However, examination of recent work in psychology reveals that there are good reasons to doubt that the effects observed in experimental settings, which ground the case for the FAE, pervade ordinary instances of person perception. Furthermore, it is possible to make sense of these experimental results without invoking the FAE. Harman's argument against lay character trait attribution is unsubstantiated. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 25 (4) 2006: pp. 350-368 “Error of Opinion may be Tolerated When Reason is Left Free to Combat It.” Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address 4 March 1801
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2007
DOI 10.4314/sajpem.v25i4.31456
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 47,195
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Empirically Informed Moral Theory: A Sketch of the Landscape.Neil Levy - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (1):3-8.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Harman Vs. Virtue Theory.Chris Tucker - 2004 - Southwest Philosophy Review 21 (1):137-145.
No Character or Personality.Gilbert Harman - 2003 - Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (1):87-94.
The Indispensability of Character.Joel J. Kupperman - 2001 - Philosophy 76 (2):239-250.
Character Traits, Virtues, and Vices.Michael DePaul - 2000 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 9:141-157.
Skepticism About Character Traits.Gilbert Harman - 2009 - The Journal of Ethics 13 (2-3):235 - 242.
Character, Situation and Intelligence.Glen Koehn - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 10:245-260.


Added to PP index

Total views
52 ( #171,921 of 2,289,508 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #585,763 of 2,289,508 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature