No Character or Personality

Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (1):87-94 (2003)
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Solomon argues that, although recent research in social psychology has important implications for business ethics, it does not undermine an approach that stresses virtue ethics. However, he underestimates the empirical threat to virtue ethics, and his a priori claim that empirical research cannot overturn our ordinary moral psychology is overstated. His appeal to seemingly obvious differences in character traits between people simply illustrates the fundamental attribution error. His suggestion that the Milgram and Darley and Batson experiments have to do with such character traits as obedience and punctuality cannot help to explain the relevant differences in the way people behave in different situations. His appeal to personality theory fails, because, as an intellectual academic discipline, personality theory is in shambles, mainly because it has been concerned with conceptions of personality rather than with what is true about personality. Solomon’s rejection of Doris’s claims about the fragmentation of character is at odds with the received view in social psychology. Finally, he is mistaken to think that rejecting virtue ethics implies rejecting free will and moral responsibility.



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Gilbert Harman
Princeton University

Citations of this work

Experimental moral philosophy.Mark Alfano, Don Loeb & Alex Plakias - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1-32.
Corporate Character.Geoff Moore - 2005 - Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (4):659-685.
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References found in this work

Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology.Daniel C. Dennett (ed.) - 1978 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: Bradford Books.
Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior.John M. Doris - 2002 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The Language of Thought.J. A. Fodor - 1978 - Critica 10 (28):140-143.

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