Virtue, Virtue Skepticism, and the Milgram Studies

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 14 (Fall 2007):50-59 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Virtue, the centerpiece of ancient ethics, has come under attack by virtue skeptics impressed by results of psychology experiments including Milgram's obedience studies. The virtue skeptic argues that experimental findings suggest that character structures are so fragile vis-å-vis situational factors as to be explanatorily superfluous: virtues and robust character traits are a myth, and should be replaced by situation-specific "narrow dispositions" (Gilbert Harman) or "local traits" (John Doris). This paper argues that the virtue skeptics' sweeping claims are ill-founded. First, blending Aristotelian and contemporary insights about virtue, I reach a decision about a reasonable, non-straw definition of "virtue" and of "character trait." Next, I argue that explanations give by Lee Ross and Richard Nisbett for the Milgram findings covertly invoke character traits. Reflection reveals that more robust, cross-situationally consistent traits are needed for explanation of subject behavior, and that it is reasonable to suppose that such traits were in place.

Links

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Virtue, Virtue Skepticism, and the Milgram Studies.Deborah C. Zeller - 2007 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 14 (2):50-59.
Skepticism about Character Traits.Gilbert Harman - 2009 - The Journal of Ethics 13 (2-3):235 - 242.
On Virtue Ethics. [REVIEW]Margaret Urban Walker - 2001 - International Philosophical Quarterly 41 (4):493-495.
On the Practicality of Virtue Ethics.Daniel Coren - 2021 - Journal of Value Inquiry 57 (2):295-318.
Character Traits, Virtues, and Vices.Michael DePaul - 2000 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 9:141-157.

Analytics

Added to PP
2022-12-01

Downloads
847 (#19,313)

6 months
330 (#7,390)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Deborah Zeller
University of North Carolina (System)

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references