The Journal of Ethics 26 (1):69-91 (2021)

Derick Hughes
University of Colorado, Boulder
Psychological situationism is the view that our behavior is ordered by external features of situations as opposed to robust character traits. Philosophical situationists have taken this claim to be conservatively revisionary for ethics; on their view, situationism problematizes only character, not any essential features of our ethical deliberation. Little has been said, however, about how these revisions motivate situationists’ claim that we ought to redirect our attention from cultivating virtues to managing situational influences on behavior. Virtue theorists have typically responded to situationists by arguing that skill-based practical wisdom—the exercise of which underwrites all other virtues—can be appropriately sensitive to situational influences. Following this response, discussions about the prescriptive consequences of situationism have largely resulted in a stalemate. In this paper, I argue that situationism faces a dilemma: it is either too conservative to be ethically revisionary or too radical to inform our ethical deliberation. I argue that both horns of this dilemma are unacceptable. Thus, we should reject situationist revisions to our ethical deliberation, and conclude that situationism is not conservatively revisionary for ethics.
Keywords Character  Situationism  Virtue ethics  Practical wisdom  Moral judgement  Reasons
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Reprint years 2021, 2022
DOI 10.1007/s10892-021-09376-0
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After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Character as Moral Fiction.Mark Alfano - 2013 - Cambridge University Press.

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