Character and the will are rarely discussed together. At most, philosophers working on the one mention the other in an eliminativist vein—if character is represented as something chosen, for example, it can be chalked up to the work of the will; if the will consists merely of a certain arrangement of mental states, it can be seen as little more than a manifestation of character. This mutual neglect appears perfectly justified. If both character and will are (...) determinants of action, to treat them separately would be to overdetermine agency at best, and at worst to fragment it. While defending this reasoning, I argue that things are not so simple, because character and will serve distinct explanatory and normative functions, respectively. The difference in function, however, does not prove that character and will must be ontologically distinct sources of agency; only that our discourse about them must keep them apart. (shrink)
This paper concerns the central virtue ethical thesis that the ethical quality of an agent's actions is a function of her dispositional character. Skeptics have rightly urged us to distinguish between an agent's particular intentions or occurrant motives and dispositional facts about her character, but they falsely contend that if we are attentive to this distinction, then we will see that the virtue ethical thesis is false. In this paper I present a new interpretation and defense of the (...) virtue ethical thesis and show how to rebuff the skeptical attacks advanced by Thomas Hurka, Julia Markovits, and Roger Crisp. The key, I contend, is for virtue ethicists to adopt an embodied value conception of character instead of the aretaic trait conception suggested by Aristotle. (shrink)
Are we really to blame only for actions that manifest our character, as Hume claims? In this paper, I explore Hume's reasoning and the nature of blame in general. I suggest that insofar as blame comes in a relational variety as well as the more familiar reactive one, there may be something to be said for linking blame with character flaws after all.
Autonomy, traditionally conceived, is the capacity to direct one’s actions in light of self-given principles or values. Character, traditionally conceived, is the set of unchosen, relatively rigid traits and proclivities that influence, constrain, or determine one’s actions. It’s natural to think that autonomy and character will be in tension with one another. In this paper, I argue that this is a mistake: while character influences and constrains choice, this poses no problem for autonomy. However, in particular cases (...)character can affect autonomy by generating a particular kind of influence upon choice. As a first approximation, character limits autonomy when it influences the agent’s choice in a way that were she aware of it, (1) she would disavow the influence, and (2) the influence could no longer operate in the same way. Put a bit differently, I argue that character undermines autonomy when it generates reflectively unstable perceptions of warrant. (shrink)
This chapter for our edited volume (Character: New Directions from Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology) provides background material on what we consider to be several of the fundamental questions about character, such as whether character traits exist, what their makeup is, and how they can be improved.
The goal of this paper is to summarize a novel empirical framework that I have developed for thinking about the moral character traits which I claim are widely possessed by many people today. Given limitations of space, though, I will not be able to motivate or defend the framework. Instead I will simply outline some of the main ideas. Also, to help make the discussion less abstract, I will focus on harming motivation and behavior, but the framework is intended (...) to generalize to all domains of our moral lives. This paper became chapter two of my 2014 book, Character and Moral Psychology. (shrink)
We present a comprehensive model that integrates virtues, values, character strengths and ethical decision making (EDM). We describe how a largely consequentialist ethical framework has dominated most EDM scholarship to date. We suggest that reintroducing a virtue ethical perspective to existing EDM theories can help to illustrate deficiencies in existing decision-making models, and suggest that character strengths and motivational values can serve as natural bridges that link a virtue framework to EDM in organizations. In conjunction with the more (...) fully formulated extant research on situational determinants, we present and discuss our model that introduces a virtue based orientation to EDM. (shrink)
We investigate the extent to which perceptions of the authenticity of supervisor’s personal integrity and character (ASPIRE) moderate the relationship between people’s love of money (LOM) and propensity to engage in unethical behavior (PUB) among 266 part-time employees who were also business students in a five-wave panel study. We found that a high level of ASPIRE perceptions was related to high love-of-money orientation, high self-esteem, but low unethical behavior intention (PUB). Unethical behavior intention (PUB) was significantly correlated with their (...) high Machiavellianism, low self-esteem, and low intrinsic religiosity. Our counterintuitive results revealed that the main effect of LOM on PUB was not significant, but the main effect of ASPIRE on PUB was significant. Further, the significant interaction effect between LOM and ASPIRE on unethical behavior intention provided profoundly interesting findings: High LOM was related to high unethical behavior intention for people with low ASPIRE, but was related to low unethical intention for those with high ASPIRE. People with high LOM and low ASPIRE had the highest unethical behavior intention; whereas those with high LOM and high ASPIRE had the lowest. We discuss results in light of individual differences, ethical environment, and perceived demand characteristics. (shrink)
Most traditional accounts of Aristotle's theory of ethical education neglect its cognitive aspects. This book asserts that, in Aristotle's view, excellence of character comprises both the sentiments and practical reason. Sherman focuses particularly on four aspects of practical reason as they relate to character: moral perception, choicemaking, collaboration, and the development of those capacities in moral education. Throughout the book, she is sensitive to contemporary moral debates, and indicates the extent to which Aristotle's account of practical reason provides (...) an alternative to theories of impartial reason. (shrink)
This book is a provocative contribution to contemporary ethical theory challenging foundational conceptions of character that date back to Aristotle. John Doris draws on behavioral science, especially social psychology, to argue that we misattribute the causes of behavior to personality traits and other fixed aspects of character rather than to the situational context. More often than not it is the situation not the nature of the personality that really counts. The author elaborates the philosophical consequences of this research (...) for a whole array of ethical theories and shows that, once rid of the misleading conception of motivation, moral psychology can support more robust ethical theories and more humane ethical practices. (shrink)
This book first reviews Miller's theory of Mixed Traits, as developed in his 2013 book Moral Character: An Empirical Theory. It then engages extensively with situations, the CAPS model in social psychology, and the Big Five Model in personality psychology. It ends by taking up implications for his view in meta-ethics (a modified error theory) and normative ethics (a challenge for virtue ethics).
The concepts expressed by social role terms such as artist and scientist are unique in that they seem to allow two independent criteria for categorization, one of which is inherently normative. This study presents and tests an account of the content and structure of the normative dimension of these “dual character concepts.” Experiment 1 suggests that the normative dimension of a social role concept represents the commitment to fulfill the idealized basic function associated with the role. Background information can (...) affect which basic function is associated with each social role. However, Experiment 2 indicates that the normative dimension always represents the relevant commitment as an end in itself. We argue that social role concepts represent the commitments to basic functions because that information is crucial to predict the future social roles and role-dependent behavior of others. (shrink)
. When I have a conscious experience of the sky, there is a bluish way it is like for me to have that experience. We may distinguish two aspects of this "bluish way it is like for me": the bluish aspect and the for-me aspect. Let us call the bluish aspect of the experience its qualitative character and the for-me aspect its subjective character . What is this elusive for-me-ness, or subjective character , of conscious experience? In (...) this paper, I examine six different attempts to account for subjective character in terms of the functional and representational properties of conscious experiences. After arguing against the first five, I defend the sixth. (shrink)
Traditionally, theories of mindreading have focused on the representation of beliefs and desires. However, decades of social psychology and social neuroscience have shown that, in addition to reasoning about beliefs and desires, human beings also use representations of character traits to predict and interpret behavior. While a few recent accounts have attempted to accommodate these findings, they have not succeeded in explaining the relation between trait attribution and belief-desire reasoning. On the account I propose, character-trait attribution is part (...) of a hierarchical system for action prediction, and serves to inform hypotheses about agents' beliefs and desires, which are in turn used to predict and interpret behavior. (shrink)
Philosophers have recently argued that traditional discussions of virtue and character presuppose an account of behaviour that experimental psychology has shown to be false. Behaviour does not issue from global traits such as prudence, temperance, courage or fairness, they claim, but from local traits such as sailing-in-rough-weather-with-friends-courage and office-party-temperance. The data employed provides evidence for this view only if we understand it in the light of a behaviourist construal of traits in terms of stimulus and response, rather than in (...) the light of the more traditional construal in terms of inner events such as inclinations. More recent experiments have shown this traditional conception to have greater explanatory and predictive power than its behaviourist rival. So we should retain the traditional conception, and hence reject the proposed alteration to our understanding of behaviour. This discussion has further implications for future philosophical investigations of character and virtue. Key Words: character traits • situationism • social psychology • virtue ethics. (shrink)
Standard characterizations of virtue epistemology divide the field into two camps: virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism. Virtue reliabilists think of intellectual virtues as reliable cognitive faculties or abilities, while virtue responsibilists conceive of them as good intellectual character traits. I argue that responsibilist character virtues sometimes satisfy the conditions of a reliabilist conception of intellectual virtue, and that consequently virtue reliabilists, and reliabilists in general, must pay closer attention to matters of intellectual character. This leads to several (...) new questions and (...) challenges for any reliabilist epistemology. (shrink)
The goal of this book is to develop a new framework for thinking about what moral character looks like today. My central claim will be that most people have moral character traits, but at the same time they do not have either the traditional ...
This paper examines the claim made by certain virtue epistemologists that intellectual character virtues like fair-mindedness, open-mindedness and intellectual courage merit an important and fundamental role in epistemology. I begin by considering whether these traits merit an important role in the analysis of knowledge. I argue that they do not and that in fact they are unlikely to be of much relevance to any of the traditional problems in epistemology. This presents a serious challenge for virtue epistemology. I go (...) on to examine the work of two other virtue epistemologists in light of this challenge and then sketch an alternative approach that reveals how the intellectual virtues might merit a substantial role in epistemology even if not a role in connection with more traditional epistemological projects. (shrink)
Our focus here is on whether, when influenced by implicit biases, those behavioural dispositions should be understood as being a part of that person’s character: whether they are part of the agent that can be morally evaluated. We frame this issue in terms of control. If a state, process, or behaviour is not something that the agent can, in the relevant sense, control, then it is not something that counts as part of her character. A number of theorists (...) have argued that individuals do not have control, in the relevant sense, over the operation of implicit bias. We will argue that this claim is mistaken. We articulate and develop a notion of control that individuals have with respect to implicit bias, and argue that this kind of control can ground character-based evaluation of such behavioural dispositions. (shrink)
We often speak of a person's character--good or bad, strong or weak--and think of it as a guide to how that person will behave in a given situation. Oddly, however, philosophers writing about ethics have had virtually nothing to say about the role of character in ethical behavior. What is character? How does it relate to having a self, or to the process of moral decision? Are we responsible for our characters? Character answers these questions, and (...) goes on to examine the place of character in ethical philosophy. Both the Kantian and utilitarian traditions, Kupperman argues, have largely ignored the ways in which decisions are integrated over time, and instead provide a "snapshot" model of moral decision. Kupperman demonstrates the deficiencies of a number of classic and contemporary ethical theories that do not take account of the idea of character, and offers his own character-based theory. Along the way he touches on such subjects as personal identity, the importance of happiness, moral education, and the definition of a valuable life. (shrink)
I pursue three of the many lines of thought that were raised in my mind by Kristjánsson’s engaging book. In the first section, I try to get clearer on what exactly Aristotelian character education (ACE) is, and suggest areas where I hope the view is developed in more detail. In the second and longest section, I draw some lessons from social psychology about the pervasive role of what I call ‘Surprising Dispositions,’ and invite Kristjánsson to take up the difficult (...) challenge of clarifying how ACE would help to address their influence on our thought and action. Finally, in section three I consider whether there is any robust empirical support for ACE, and if not, where that leaves us. (shrink)
Using evidence from experimental psychology, some social psychologists, moral philosophers and organizational scholars claim that character traits do not exist and, hence, that the philosophical tradition of virtue ethics is empirically inadequate and should dispose of the notion of character to accommodate the empirical evidence. In this paper, I systematically address the debate between dispositionalists and situationists about the existence, status and properties of character traits and their manifestations in human behavior, with the ultimate goal of responding (...) to the question whether virtue ethicists need to abandon the very enterprise of building a character-based moral theory in business ethics and organizational behavior. In the course of this paper, I shall defend the claim that the situationist argument relies on a misinterpretation of the experimental evidence. (shrink)
This review essay examines some central aspects of Kristján Kristjánsson’s book, Aristotelian Character Education, beginning with the claim that contemporary virtue ethics provides methodological, ontological, epistemological, and moral foundations for Aristotelian character education. It considers three different formulations of what defines virtue ethics, and suggests that virtue ethical moral theory has steered character educators away from important aspects of Aristotle’s views on character education. It goes on to suggest a broadening of attention to psychology beyond personality (...) and the psychological status of virtues, and it concludes with an examination of Kristjánsson’s understanding of phronesis. (shrink)
This paper brings together two erstwhile distinct strands of philosophical inquiry: the extended mind hypothesis and the situationist challenge to virtue theory. According to proponents of the extended mind hypothesis, the vehicles of at least some mental states (beliefs, desires, emotions) are not located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent whose states they are. When external props, tools, and other systems are suitably integrated into the functional apparatus of (...) the agent, they are partial bearers of her cognitions, motivations, memories, and so on. According to proponents of the situationist challenge to virtue theory, dispositions located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent to whom they are attributed typically do not meet the normative standards associated with either virtue or vice (moral, epistemic, or otherwise) because they are too susceptible to moderating external variables, such as mood modulators, ambient sensibilia, and social expectation signaling. We here draw on both of these literatures to formulate two novel views – the embedded and extended character hypotheses – according to which the vehicles of not just mental states but longer-lasting, wider-ranging, and normatively-evaluable agentic dispositions are sometimes located partially beyond the confines of the agent’s skin. (shrink)
Proponents of phenomenal intentionality share a commitment that, for at least some paradigmatically intentional states, phenomenal character constitutively determines narrow intentional content. If this is correct, then any two states with the same phenomenal character will have the same narrow intentional content. Using a twin-earth style case, I argue that two different people can be in intrinsically identical phenomenological states without sharing narrow intentional contents. After describing and defending the case, I conclude by considering a few objections that (...) help to further illustrate the problem. (shrink)
The Values in Action (VIA) classification of character strengths and virtues has been recently proposed by two leading positive psychologists, Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman as “the social science equivalent of virtue ethics.” The very possibility of developing this kind of an “equivalent,” however, is very doubtful in the light of the cogent criticism that has been leveled at modern moral theory by Alasdair MacIntyre as well as the well argued accusations that positive psychology, despite its official normative neutrality, (...) is pervaded by specifically Western individualism and instrumentalism. In order to evaluate whether the VIA project can be considered as substantially rooted in virtue ethical tradition, the classification was assessed against two fundamental features of the classical version of the latter: (1) the substantial interconnectedness of individual virtues, as expressed by the thesis of the unity of virtue, and (2) the constitutive character of the relationship between virtue and happiness. It turned out, in result, that the two above features are not only absent from but also contradicted by the VIA framework with the latter's: (1′) construal of individual virtues and character strengths as independent variables and (2′) official endorsement of the fact/value distinction. As soon as the arguments for the superiority of the classical virtue ethical perspective are provided, the potential responses available to the VIA's proponents are discussed. (shrink)
Virtue ethics has often been regarded as complementary or laissez-faire ethics in solving business problems. This paper seeks conceptual and methodological improvements by developing a virtue character scale that will enable assessment of the link between organizational level virtue and organizational performance, financial or non-financial. Based upon three theoretical assumptions, multiple studies were conducted; the content analysis of 158 Fortune Global 500 firms ethical values and a survey of 2548 customers and employees. Six dimensions of organizational virtue (Integrity, Empathy, (...) Warmth, Courage, Conscientiousness and Zeal) are identified through confirmatory factor analysis, and validated against satisfaction measure. Strategic implications of virtue characters are discussed. (shrink)
Deliberation issues in decision, and so might be taken as a paradigmatic volitional activity. Character, on the other hand, may appear pre-volitional: the dispositions that constitute it provide the background against which decisions are made. Bernard Williams offers an intriguing picture of how the two may be connected via the concept of practical necessities, which are at once constitutive of character and deliverances of deliberation. Necessities are thus the glue binding character and the will, allowing us to (...) take responsibility for our characters. Intriguing though the picture may be, it did not receive a thorough elaboration in Williams’s work. My aim here is to work out and defend what I take to be the most valuable aspect of Williams’s view of agency: its model of the way character and the will can jointly determine agency through mutual constitution. However, I argue that Williams’s attempt to use this model to ground his attack on Kantian morality does not succeed, because the primacy Williams accords to character over the will cannot yield the appropriate kind of normative authority, even from the perspective of the agent. I urge that we retain Williams’s model of the interaction between character and the will, modified to allow the will an authority that is not derived from the necessity of character. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a local account of character traits that posits traits like close-friend-honesty and good-mood-compassion. John Doris also defends local character traits, but his local character traits are indistinguishable from mere behavioral dispositions, they are not necessary for the purpose which allegedly justifies them, and their justification is only contingent, depending upon the prevailing empirical situation. The account of local traits I defend posits local traits that are traits of character rather than behavioral (...) dispositions, local traits that are necessary to satisfy one of their central purposes, and local traits whose justification is dependent upon theoretical rather than empirical considerations. (shrink)
In recent debates on phenomenal consciousness, a distinction is sometimes made, after Levine (2001) and Kriegel (2009), between the “qualitative character” of an experience, i.e. the specific way it feels to the subject (e.g. blueish or sweetish or pleasant), and its “subjective character”, i.e. the fact that there is anything at all that it feels like to her. I argue that much discussion of subjective character is affected by a conflation between three different notions. I start by (...) disentangling the three notions in question, under the labels of “for-me-ness”, “me-ness” and “mineness”. Next, I argue that these notions are not equivalent; in particular, there is no conceptual implication from for-me-ness to me-ishness or mineness. Empirical considerations based on clinical cases additionally suggest that the three notions may also correspond to different properties (although the claim of conceptual non-equivalence does not depend on this further point). The aim is clarificatory, cautionary but also critical: I examine four existing arguments from subjective character that are fuelled by an undifferentiated use of the three notions, and find them to be flawed for this reason. (shrink)
In this paper we consider the prospects for an account of good argument that takes the character of the arguer into consideration. We conclude that although there is much to be gained by identifying the virtues of the good arguer and by considering the ways in which these virtues can be developed in ourselves and in others, virtue argumentation theory does not offer a plausible alternative definition of good argument.
I defend the epistemic thesis that evaluations of people in terms of their moral character as good, bad, or intermediate are almost always epistemically unjustified. (1) Because most people are fragmented (they would behave deplorably in many and admirably in many other situations), one's prior probability that any given person is fragmented should be high. (2) Because one's information about specific people does not reliably distinguish those who are fragmented from those who are not, one's posterior probability that any (...) given person is fragmented should be close to one's prior—and thus should also be high. (3) Because being fragmented entails being indeterminate (neither good nor bad nor intermediate), one's posterior probability that any given person is indeterminate should also be high—and the epistemic thesis follows. (1) and (3) rely on previous work; here I support (2) by using a mathematical result together with empirical evidence from personality psychology. (shrink)
Philosophers have inherited a familiar taxonomy of character types from Aristotle. We are all acquainted with the labels of the virtuous, vicious, continent, and incontinent person. The goal of this paper is to argue that we should jettison this framework. The main reason is that psychological research in the past fifty years has suggested a much more complex picture of moral character than what can be usefully captured by these four categories. In its place, I will suggest a (...) better taxonomy that makes use of the idea of what I call mixed character. (shrink)
When discussing Eastern philosophy there is often a difficulty since characteristically Eastern ways of thinking do not map well onto Western philosophic categories. Yet, P. J. Ivanhoe suggests that a careful reading of Confucianism can illuminate and expand Western approaches to ethics. Ivanhoe maintains that the best way to understand Confucian ethics is as a hybrid of virtue ethics and consequentialism, a view he calls character consequentialism (CC). The paper will progress in the following way. First, I present Ivanhoe’s (...) conception of character consequentialism. Second, I discuss how CC, particularly as it is developed by Charles Goodman as a way to interpret Mahayana Buddhist ethics, relates to aspects of Mill’s utilitarianism. This suggests that there is nothing especially new about CC. However, the similarities actually underscore the ways that Eastern and Western ethical theories can illuminate each other. Finally, I respond to Damien Keown’s concern that CC is hopeless confused. (shrink)
Macalester Bell urges the cultivation of apt contempt as the best response to what she calls “the vices of superiority”. In this essay, I sketch two character profiles. The first—the ideal contemnor—paradigmatically answers the vices of superiority with contempt. The second—the ideal Christian neighbor—is marked by humility and love, and answers the vices of superiority in non-contemptuous ways. I argue that the latter character rivals the former as a fitting moral response to the vices of superiority. Furthermore, I (...) argue that the two character profiles are incompatible, so one cannot jointly cultivate humble love and contempt. Given contempt's nastiness, and the alternative resources available for answering the vices of superiority, I suggest one should focus one's character-formation efforts on the cultivation of humility and love. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences inform us about objective properties of things in our environment. But they also have perspectival character in the sense that they differ phenomenally when objects are viewed from different points of view. Contemporary representationalists hold, at a minimum, that phenomenal character supervenes on representational content. Thus, in order to account for perspectival character, they need to indentify a type of representational content that changes in appropriate ways with the perceiver’s point of view. Many representationlists, including (...) Shoemaker and Lycan, argue that such contents are best construed in terms of mind-dependent properties. Other representationalists, including Tye and Dretske, hold that these contents involve only mind-independent properties. Susanna Schellenberg has recently developed an account of perceptual experience that would serve these latter representationalists extremely well. She suggests that we can do justice to the perspectival character of perceptual experience by appeal to representations of a certain type of relational properties, so-called ‘situation-dependent properties.’ In this paper, I critically engage with Schellenberg’s proposal in order to show how mind-independent representationalists can explain perspectival character. I argue that appeal to situation-dependent properties is problematic. I then show that mind-independent representationalists can account for perspectical character by means of scenario contents in Christopher Peacocke’s sense. (shrink)
I examine the Aristotelean conception of virtuous character as firm and unchangeable, a normative ideal endorsed in the currently influential, broadly Aristotelean school of thought known as 'virtue ethics'. Drawing on central concepts of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, I offer an account of how this ideal is supposed to be realized psychologically. I then consider present-day empirical findings about relevant psychological processes, with special attention to interpersonal processes. The empirical evidence suggests that over time, the same interpersonal processes that sometimes (...) help to sustain character may also disrupt it, even among agents who have the right values in principle. Fortunately, the evidence also suggests some remedial measures. An important philosophical measure, I conclude, is for advocates of virtue ethics to address agents' psychological need for a systematic decision procedure that will focus attention primarily on substantive ethical considerations, rather than characterological assessment. (shrink)
Currently fashionable among critics of enlightenment thought is the charge that Kant's ethics fails to provide an adequate account of character and its formation in moral and political life. G. Felicitas Munzel challenges this reading of Kant's thought, claiming not only that Kant has a very rich notion of moral character, but also that it is a conception of systematic importance for his thought, linking the formal moral with the critical, aesthetic, anthropological, and biological aspects of his philosophy. (...) The first book to focus on character formation in Kant's moral philosophy, it builds on important recent work on Kant's aesthetics and anthropology, and brings these to bear on moral issues. Munzel traces Kant's multifaceted definition of character through the broad range of his writings, and then explores the structure of character, its actual exercise in the world, and its cultivation. An outstanding work of original textual analysis and interpretation, _Kant's Conception of Moral Character_ is a major contribution to Kant studies and moral philosophy in general. (shrink)
Much of the philosophical attention directed to pride focuses on the normative puzzle of determining how pride can be both a central vice and a central virtue. But there is another puzzle, a descriptive puzzle, of determining how the emotion of pride and the character trait of pride relate to each other. A solution is offered to the descriptive puzzle that builds upon the accounts of Hume and Gabriele Taylor, but avoids the pitfalls of those accounts. In particular, the (...) emotion and the trait correspond to two employments of personal ideals: personal ideals as standards of self-assessment and personal ideals as practical guides in one’s deliberation and related activities. This account, in turn, provides a framework for solving the normative puzzle. (shrink)
This paper draws from the work of sixteenth century theologian, philosopher, and ethicist Domingo de Soto and considers his virtue-based approach to the ethical evaluation of commerce within an Aristotelian–Thomistic framework for the articulation of business and the common good. Particular attention is given to the fundamental emphasis placed by Soto in distinguishing between commerce as an activity and the specific conduct of persons engaging in commercial activity. The distinction between the material and the formal parts of the common good (...) is then employed to shed light on the way Soto articulates commercial practices, virtuous character, and the common good. It is concluded that Soto’s major contribution for business ethics is clarifying that the key element for the ethical evaluation of commerce is the embodiment of virtuous personal conduct in the exercise of commercial activity. In this framework, the fulfillment of commerce’s potential to contribute to the common good is thus fundamentally interconnected with putting virtues into practice. (shrink)
Engineering Ethics literature tends to emphasize wrongdoing, its avoidance, or its prevention. It also tends to focus on identifiable events, especially those that involve unfortunate, sometimes disastrous consequences. This paper shifts attention to the positive in engineering practice; and, as a result, the need for addressing questions of character and imagination becomes apparent.
This collection of 31 papers primarily features the work funded by the Character Project's funding competitions (www.thecharacterproject.com). These papers represent some of the best and most innovative new work on character in the fields of psychology, philosophy, and theology.
Numerous philosophers in recent decades have argued that a partial explanation for how the blessed in heaven are impeccable while remaining free and responsible is that they have cultivated or developed such a virtuous character prior to heaven that once in heaven they are incapable of acting contrary to their virtuously cultivated characters. Further, because the agents are at least partially responsible for the construction of their characters, they can be considered free and responsible with regard to the choices (...) or actions such virtuous characters allow. In what follows I will argue that the impeccability of the blessed is not achieved through a character-development process performed by the blessed themselves. (shrink)
Qualities of personal character would appear to play a significant role in the professional conduct of teachers. It is often said that we remember teachers as much for the kinds of people they were than for anything they may have taught us, and some kinds of professional expertise may best be understood as qualities of character After (roughly) distinguishing qualities of character from those of personality, the present paper draws on the resources of virtue ethics to try (...) to make sense of the former. In the course of this, it is argued that while the key virtue ethical concept of phronesis orpractical wisdom has been widely deployed to account for aspects of professional teacher expertise, it has also been subject to rather un-Aristotelian interpretation as a kind of situation specific productive reasoning. The present paper seeks to show that it is better employed for understanding character in general and character in teaching in particular. The paper concludes with some observations about the professional education or cultivation of character. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 23 Emotions are pivotal in the manifestation and functioning of character traits. Traits such as virtues and vices involve emotions in diverse but connected ways. Some virtues are exemplified, in important part, by feeling emotions. Others are exemplified in managing, bypassing, or even eliminating emotions. And one virtue at least is exemplified in _not_-feeling a certain range of emotions. Emotions are a kind of perceptual state, namely _construal_, involving concern or caring about something, in which (...) the elements of a situation are organized and understood in terms of their significance or import. Emotional understanding can be morally right or wrong. As such construals, emotions can be morally excellent or perverse. Emotions thus have a logic or grammar that is crucial to their entering into, or being set upon by, or simply not occurring because of, virtues. The virtuous person is attuned, implicitly or reflectively, to this grammar, and that attunement constitutes one of the major dimensions of practical wisdom. An associationist psychology attempts to reduce the conceptual and intentional richness of emotions to mere associations or correlations of pleasant or unpleasant “affect” with various things. Such a psychology is fundamentally unfit to represent practical wisdom, and thus the moral life. We sketch an account of the generation and degeneration of character traits using the above conceptual framework and contrasting it with an associationist framework. (shrink)
The theory of embodied cognition makes the claim that our cognitive processes are, at their core, sensorimotor, situated, and action-relevant. Our mental system is built primarily to control action, and so mind is formed by the nature of the body and its interactions with the world. In this paper we will explore the nature of virtue and its formation from the perspective of embodied cognition. We specifically describe exemplars of the virtue of compassion (caregivers of individuals with developmental disabilities in (...) L'Arche communities), speculating as to what might have been the formative influences in their character development. Embodied formation is understood in the context of the openness of human cortical systems to formation by social interactions, and in terms of the openness to reorganization and change of complex dynamical systems. Specific formative influences explored include interpersonal imitation, social attachment, language, and story. (shrink)
This volume of original essays addresses a range of issues concerning the responsibility individuals have for their actions and for their characters. Among the central questions considered are: what scope is there for regarding a person as responsible for his character given genetic and environmental factors; does an account of responsiblity provide a legitimate basis for the retributive emotions; are we ever justified in feeling guilty for occurrences over which we have no control; does responsibility for the consequences of (...) our acts require that they were intended or simply expected; and how have a number of influential previous philosophers, including Aristotle, Maimonides, and Spinoza, approached these questions? (shrink)
This article explores the civic republican conception of citizenship underlying the Labour government's programme of civil renewal and the introduction of education for democratic citizenship. It considers the importance of the cultivation of civic virtue through political participation for such developments and it reviews the research into how service learning linked to character education can lead to the civic virtue of duty or social responsibility.
Can doctors maintain good character? This paper shifts the focus from patient care to ethical considerations that bear on the physician and impact her as a person. By decentering patient care, the paper highlights certain factors that habituate a particular way of reasoning that is not conducive to inculcating good character. Such factors include, standards of professionalism, being influenced by external monitors, and emphasis on adherence to guidelines. While such factors may benefit patients, they often adversely affect the (...)character of physicians. (shrink)
Why are personal attacks so powerful? In political debates, speeches, discussions and campaigns, negative character judgments, aggressive charges and charged epithets are used for different purposes. They can block the dialogue, trigger value judgments and influence decisions; they can force the interlocutor to withdraw a viewpoint or undermine his arguments. Personal attacks are not only multifaceted dialogical moves, but also complex argumentative strategies. They can be considered as premises for further arguments based on signs, generalizations or consequences. They involve (...) tactics for arousing emotions such as fear, hate or contempt, or for ridiculing the interlocutor. The twofold level of investigation presented in this paper is aimed at distinguishing the different roles that ad hominem have in a dialogue and bringing to light their hidden dimensions. The reasoning structure of each type of attack will be distinguished from the tactics used to increase its effectiveness and conceal its weaknesses. (shrink)