The influence of virtue theory is spreading to the professions. I argue that journalists and educators would do well to refrain from placing too much faith in the power of the virtues to guide working journalists. Rather than focus on the character of the journalist, we would do better to concentrate on institutional constraints on unethical conduct. I urge this position in the light of the critique of virtue ethics advanced, especially, by Gilbert Harman (1999). Harman believed that the (...) empirical findings of psychologists show that character-based approaches to ethics are useless. I suspect that this rather overstates the case. Nevertheless, special features of journalism make virtue-centered approaches especially inappropriate, and we had best turn to alternatives. (shrink)
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)
My goal is to reflect on the phenomenon of inadvertent creation and argue that—various objections to the contrary—it doesn’t undermine the view that fictional characters are abstract artifacts. My starting point is a recent challenge by Jeffrey Goodman that is originally posed for those who hold that fictional characters and mythical objects alike are abstract artifacts. The challenge: if we think that astronomers like Le Verrier, in mistakenly hypothesizing the planet Vulcan, inadvertently created an abstract artifact, then the “inadvertent creation” (...) element turns out to be inescapable yet theoretically unattractive. Based on considerations about actually existing concrete objects featured in fictional works (as Napoleon is in Tolstoy’s War and Peace), I argue that independently of one’s stand on mythical objects, admitting fictional characters as abstract artifacts is enough to give rise to the challenge at hand; yet this very point serves to undermine the challenge, indicating that inadvertent creation is not nearly as worrisome as Goodman suggests. Indeed, the inadvertent creation phenomenon’s generality extends far beyond objects of fiction and myth, and I will use this observation to counter a further objection. Taking fictional characters (and mythical objects) to be abstract artifacts therefore remains a viable option. (shrink)
Many interdisciplinary discussions seem to operate on a tacit assumption that the notions of character and personality can be used interchangeably. In order to argue that such an assumption is at least partly erroneous, the character–personality distinction drawn in various contexts is systematically scrutinized both in an historical and conceptual way. Then, in turn, two particular issues are addressed. The character–personality distinction is shown to be reliant on the dichotomy between value and fact, respectively, and to have (...) a considerable functional dimension with some of the functions fulfilled by the notion of character (but not by that one of personality). The outcomes achieved, finally, are referred to the subtle differences between the fact–value distinction and the Humean is–ought dichotomy. (shrink)
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)
This paper introduces a body of research on Organizational Behavior and Industrial/organizational Psychology that expands the range of empirical evidence relevant to the ongoing character-situation debate. This body of research, mostly neglected by moral philosophers, provides important insights to move the debate forward. First, the OB/io scholarship provides empirical evidence to show that social environments like organizations have significant power to shape the character traits of their members. This scholarship also describes some of the mechanisms through which this (...) process of reshaping character takes place. Second, the character-situation debate has narrowly focused on situational influences that affect behavior episodically and haphazardly. The OB/io research, however, highlights the importance of distinguishing such situational influences from influences that, like organizational influences, shape our character traits because they are continuous and coordinated. Third, the OB/io literature suggests that most individuals display character traits that, while local to the organization, can be consistent across situations. This puts pressure on the accounts of character proposed by traditional virtue ethics and situationism and provides empirical support to interactionist models based on cognitive-affective processing system theories of personality. Finally, the OB/io literature raises important challenges to the possibility of achieving virtue, provides valuable and untapped resources to cultivate character, and suggests new avenues of normative and empirical research. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Reid and Hume on the Possibility of Character--James A. Harris * Adam Smith's Rhetorical Art of Character--Stephen McKenna * The Moral Education of Mankind: Character and Religious Moderatism in the Sermons of Hugh Blair--Thomas Ahnert * The Not-So-Prodigal Son: James Boswell and the Scottish Enlightenment--Anthony La Vopa * Character, Sociability and Correspondence: Elizabeth Griffith and The Letters between Henry and Frances--Eve Tavor Bannet * Smellie's Dreams: Character and Consciousness in the (...) Scottish Enlightenment--Phyllis Mack William * Aspects of Character and Sociability in Scottish Enlightenment Medicine--Neil Vickers * The 'Peculiar Colouring of the Mind': Character and Painted Portraiture in the Scottish Enlightenment--Viccy Coltman * National Characters and Race: A Scottish Enlightenment Debate--Silvia Sebastiani * Character and Cosmopolitanism in the Scottish-American Enlightenment--Hannah Spahn * Historical Characters: Biography, the Science of Man, and Romantic Fiction--Susan Manning * Necessity, Freedom, and Character Formation from the Eighteenth Century to the Nineteenth--Jerrold Seigel. (shrink)
Some fourteen years after its initial publication, this important and influential book, with a new, substantial, and candid introduction by the author, is available in a reasonably priced paperback edition. In this volume Hauerwas assesses recent interest in the "ethics of character" and suggests areas in his own work that now call for some corrective and/or further work.
This essay examines the relation between philosophical questions concerning personal identity and character development in Shaftesbury’s and Hume’s philosophy. Shaftesbury combines a metaphysical account of personal identity with a normative approach to character development. By contrasting Shaftesbury’s and Hume’s views on these issues, I examine whether character development presupposes specific metaphysical views about personal identity, and in particular whether it presupposes the continued existence of a substance, as Shaftesbury assumes. I show that Hume’s philosophy offers at least (...) two alternatives. Moreover, I consider whether and how Hume’s philosophy leaves scope for character development and how he departs from Shaftesbury’s normative project of self-formation. (shrink)
The article presents the results of our observations on syntactic, semantic and plot peculiarities of oral language activity, we find it justified to consider the above mentioned parameters as identification criteria for discovering characterological differences of Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking objects of contact profiling. It describes the connection between mechanisms of psychological defenses as the character structural components, and agentive and non-agentive speech constructions, internal and external predicates. Localized and described plots of oral narratives inherent to representatives of different (...) class='Hi'>character types. (shrink)
The principle of double effect has a long history, from scholastic disputations about self-defense and scandal to current debates about terrorism, torture, euthanasia, and abortion. Despite being widely debated, the principle remains poorly understood. In Intention, Character, and Double Effect, Lawrence Masek combines theoretical and applied questions into a systematic defense of the principle that does not depend on appeals to authority or intuitions about cases. Masek argues that actions can be wrong because they corrupt the agent's character (...) and that one must consider the agent's perspective to determine which effects the agent intends. This defense of the principle clears up common confusions and overcomes critics' objections, including confusions about trolley and transplant cases and objections from neuroscience and moral psychology. This book will interest scholars and students in different fields of study, including moral philosophy, action theory, moral theology, and moral psychology. Its discussion of contemporary ethical issues and sparse use of technical jargon make it suitable for undergraduate and graduate courses in applied ethics. The appendix summarizes the main cases that have been used to illustrate or to criticize the principle of double effect. (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 the following: What scope is there for regarding a person as responsible for his or her character given genetic and environmental factors? Does an account of responsibility provide a legitimate basis for the retributive emotions? Are we ever justified in feeling guilty for occurences over which we have no control? Does responsibility (...) for the consequences of our acts require that they were intended or simply expected? How have a number of influential previous philosophers, including Aristotle, Maimonides, and Spinoza, approached these questions? (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)
Character and Culture by Irving Babbitt is the latest volume in the Library of Conservative Thought. Babbitt was the leader of the twentieth-century intellectual and cultural movement called American Humanism or the New Humanism. More than half a century after his death his intellectual staying power remains undiminished. The qualities that marked Irving Babbitt as a thinker and cultural critic of the first rank are richly represented in "Character and Culture. "First published togetherin 1940, "these essays span his (...) scholarly career and cover a wide range of subjects. The diverse topics discussed here--aesthetics, ethics, religion, politics, literature--are illuminated by the same unifying vision of human existence that informs and structures all of Babbitt's writing. Babbitt never took up a subject out of idle curiosity. All of his books and articles grew out of a desire to address certain fundamental questions of life and letters. The essaysin this volume are as worthy of attention now as when they were originally written. Set in then- philosophical and historical context by Claes G. Ryn's new introduction, they are a good place to start for persons who wish to acquaint themselves not only with Babbitt's central ideas but with the scope of his mind and interests. Readers familiar with other books by Babbitt may recognize particular ideas and formulations but will also find much new material to ponder. Ryn's introduction provides a comprehensive look at Irving Babbitt's life, career, writings, and influence. He shows how Babbitt has survived and sustained often harsh criticism from representatives of dominant trends. Ryn describes his writing style as having "a kind of rugged American elegance." The substantial critical introduction also elucidates Babbitt's central ideas in relation to the volume. "Character and Culture "will be of interest to scholars of literature, philosophers, historians, theologians, and political theorists. The extensive index to all of Babbitt's books, including this one, increases the value of the volume. (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)
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).
This book contains new work on character from the perspectives of philosophy, theology, and psychology. From a virtual reality simulation of the Milgram shock experiments, to understanding the virtue of modesty in Muslim societies, to defending soldiers’ moral responsibility for committing war crimes, these chapters break new ground and significantly advance our understanding of character. The main topics covered fall under the heading of our beliefs about character, the existence and nature of character traits, character (...) and ethical theory, virtue epistemology, the nature of particular virtues, character development, and challenges to character and virtue from neuroscience and situationism. The book significantly shapes discussions of character in scholarship. (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 ...
We like to think of ourselves, our friends, and our families as decent people. We may not be saints, but we are still honest, relatively kind, and mostly trustworthy. Miller argues here that we are badly mistaken in thinking this. Hundreds of recent studies in psychology tell a different story: that we all have serious character flaws that prevent us from being as good as we think we are - and that we do not even recognize that these flaws (...) exist. But neither are most of us cruel or dishonest. Instead, Miller argues, we are a mixed bag. On the one hand, most of us in a group of bystanders will do nothing as someone cries out for help in an emergency. Yet it is also true that there will be many times when we will selflessly come to the aid of a complete stranger - and resist the urge to lie, cheat, or steal even if we could get away with it. Much depends on cues in our social environment. Miller uses this recent psychological literature to explain what the notion of "character" really means today, and how we can use this new understanding to develop a character better in sync with the kind of people we want to be. (shrink)
Experiences, by definition, have phenomenal character. But many experiences have a specific type of phenomenal character: presentational character. While both visual experience and conscious thought make us aware of their objects, only in visual experience do objects seem present before the mind and available for direct access. I argue that Higher-Order Thought (HOT) theories of consciousness have a particularly steep hill to climb in accommodating presentational character.
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)
Character education values are discovered in cultural activities and human interactions with God, others and themselves. This study aims to explore and describe the value of character education in the peraq api of Sasak community in Lombok. This article uses a qualitative research approach. The data collection techniques include observation, interviews and documentation. The data analysis used triangulation with the stages of identifying interview material, classifying, coding, taking emic and hermeneutical approaches. The results of the study elucidate that (...) the procedures and stages of the ritual begin from experimentation, which is considered and believed to have magical powers but does not conflict with religious values. The stages that are passed in carrying out the ritual include activities to prepare materials, process materials, fumigation, carry out rituals and give baby names. The character values comprised in the peraq api tradition are religious, ethical, responsible and environmental care character.Contribution: This research contributes to maintaining the values of character education in the Sasak society. (shrink)
Character education in schools has been high on the UK political agenda for the last few years. The government has invested millions in grants to support character education projects and declared its intention to make Britain a global leader in teaching character and resilience. But the policy has many critics: some question whether schools should be involved in the formation of character at all; others worry that the traits schools are being asked to cultivate are excessively (...) competitive or military. In this pamphlet Randall Curren sets out a robust defence of character education. He welcomes the political support it presently enjoys, but contends that greater clarity about the nature, benefits and acquisition of good character is essential. In particular, he argues that too narrow a focus on traits like perseverance and resilience is a serious mistake: these traits are only virtues when they are part of a wider set of moral and intellectual qualities, and when their exercise is guided by good judgment. Curren offers us a compelling and coherent account of what good character is and how it might be cultivated in schools. He explains why schools must be needs-supporting environments that provide students with opportunities to engage in rewarding activity, and why cultivating good character implies promoting the ‘fundamental British values’ of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance. His groundbreaking pamphlet promises to expand the scope and strengthen the foundations of character education in British schools, and should go a long way towards allaying the fears of its detractors. (shrink)
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)
I argue that the two criteria traditionally identified as jointly sufficient for voluntary behavior according to Aristotle require qualification. Without such qualification, they admit troubling exceptions. Through minding these difficult examples, I conclude that a third condition mentioned by Aristotle – the eph' hēmin – is key to qualifying the original two criteria. What is eph' hēmin is that which is efficiently caused by appetite and teleologically caused by reason such that the agent could have, in theory, acted differently. I (...) propose that praise and blame are justified only when 1: the behavior is voluntary and 2: the agent is susceptible to the positive influences of appropriate praise and blame to help form, improve, or strengthen a good character. Through concentrating on the agent's affectability in morally salient situations, we may better understand the qualified criteria's role in voluntary human behavior in general. (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)
Tracking representationalism is the theory that phenomenal consciousness is a matter of tracking physical properties in an appropriate way. This theory holds that phenomenal character can be explained in terms of representational content, and it also entails that there is unlikely to be a strong correlation between phenomenal character and neural states. However, the empirical evidence shows that both claims cannot be true. So, tracking representationalism is wrong. Its fault is due to ignoring the internal correlation of experience, (...) the existence of which shows that phenomenal character is shaped by neural states to a large extent, so it cannot be wholly explained by representational content. (shrink)
Prior studies in business ethics highlight the role of philanthropy in shaping stakeholders’ perceptions of a firm’s underlying moral tendencies and values. Scholars argue that philanthropy-based character inferences influence whether and how stakeholders engage with firms. We extend this line of reasoning to examine the impact of philanthropy on firms’ contracting costs in the capital market. We posit that philanthropy-based character inferences reduce investors’ agency concerns, thereby reducing firms’ cost of capital. We also posit that the strength of (...) the philanthropy–cost of capital relationship is contingent on uncertainty regarding a firm’s character, visibility of a firm, and prevailing philanthropic norms. We test and find support for our arguments in a longitudinal study of philanthropy and the cost of capital. Our findings have implications for business ethics research on corporate philanthropy and corporate social performance and for organizational research on social judgment. (shrink)
Character Education juxtaposes John Dewey's philosophy of the person and values education with Alasdair MacIntyre's treatment of Aristotle's virtue theory in order to highlight the importance of virtue in developing good character.
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.
" Because characters and the conception of characters are central to all studies of evolution, and because evolution is the central organizing principle of biology, this book will appeal to a wide cross-section of biologists.
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)
The research project described in this report represents one of the most extensive studies of character education ever undertaken, including over 10,000 students and 255 teachers in schools across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Research techniques consisted of a mixture of surveys, moral dilemmas and semi-structured interviews. This report explores: - The current situation in character education, both in the UK and internationally - How developed British students are with respect to moral character and the extent (...) to which they are able to understand and apply moral virtues, especially those aged 14 and 15 - How teachers in the UK understand their role in terms of students’ moral and character development - What helps or hinders the development of children’s characters according to teachers in UK schools. (shrink)
The aim of the My Character project was to develop a better understanding of how interventions designed to develop character might enhance moral formation and futuremindedness in young people. Futuremindedness can be defined as an individual’s capacity to set goals and make plans to achieve them. Establishing goals requires considerable moral reflection, and the achievement of worthwhile aims requires character traits such as courage and the capacity to delay gratification. The research team developed two new educational interventions (...) – a website and a hard-copy journal – with the specific aim of developing future-mindedness. After development, the website and journal were piloted over a one-year period by over 1,000 11–14 year olds in six schools across England. Various research methods, including group interviews and case studies, were implemented to assess impact. In addition, a pilot RCT was conducted to assess the feasibility of using experimental methods to measure character. The main findings from the research are that: - Students benefit from opportunities in school to think about future-mindedness; this can be successfully taught through character education. - Harnessing new technology, such as the Internet, offers exciting opportunities for character education. - It is beneficial to investigate the impact of new character education resources in order to bring greater clarity about ‘what works’. The most useful approach is a mixed methods one that allows for triangulation of evidence. - It is possible to run RCTs and other experimental research in schools to assess developmental projects of this kind, but applying the method in schools and creating suitable outcome measures present challenges for researchers. - A positive indicator of the success is that five out of the six pilot schools have embedded My Character into their curriculum. In addition, many new schools, both in Britain and internationally, have started to use the website and / or journal. This report describes the research, analyses the impact of My Character and concludes with recommendations for policy makers, practitioners and researchers embarking on similar projects. These recommendations include: i) advocating that schools create space in the curriculum to teach future-mindedness through character education; ii) enhancing traditional character education teaching methods with opportunities brought by Internet technologies; iii) evaluating character education interventions using triangulated evidence drawn from a mixture of research methods. (shrink)
The Jubilee Centre’s new report, Virtuous Character for the Practice of Law, sets about trying to examine the place of character and values in the legal profession in Britain. The report draws its findings from a UK focused survey of 966 lawyers and aspiring lawyers at varying stages of their careers. It is one of the largest pieces of research carried out in Britain focusing on issues of character and virtue within a specific industry sector.
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 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.
In _Character Compass_, Scott Seider offers portraits of three high-performing urban schools in Boston, Massachusetts that have made character development central to their mission of supporting student success, yet define character in three very different ways. One school focuses on students’ moral character development, another emphasizes civic character development, and the third prioritizes performance character development. Drawing on surveys, interviews, field notes, and student achievement data, _Character Compass _highlights the unique effects of these distinct approaches (...) to character development as well as the implications for parents, educators, and policymakers committed to fostering powerful school culture in their own school communities. (shrink)
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)
If there are no fictional characters, how do we explain thought and discourse apparently about them? If there are, what are they like? A growing number of philosophers claim that fictional characters are abstract objects akin to novels or plots. They argue that postulating characters provides the most straightforward explanation of our literary practices as well as a uniform account of discourse and thought about fiction. Anti-realists counter that postulation is neither necessary nor straightforward, and that the invocation of pretense (...) provides a better account of the same phenomena. I outline and assess these competing theories. (shrink)
Character and Person explores the category of fictional character, one of the most widely used and least adequately theorized concepts in literary studies, cultural studies, and everyday usage. It sets fictional character in relation to the concept of person and tries to examine how each of these terms is constructed across different cultures.
Theorizing about human character to understand what it is to be a morally good person and how being morally good relates to acting rightly and living well has always been a central concern of moral philosophy. Traditional virtue theory, however, neglects two significant matters. The first is the sociopolitical dimensions of character: how character is shaped by, supports, and resists domination and subordination. While feminist ethics has begun to theorize virtue in relation to oppression, it shares with (...) traditional virtue theory a second problematic inattention to something of equal importance for understanding character and moral life, namely, bad character or vice. I argue that rich accounts of vice are needed to achieve the aims not only of traditional and feminist ethical theory but also of every moral agent facing the central moral task of trying to become a morally good person leading a morally worthy life. This paper explicates a substantive reorientation in moral theory in general and feminist ethics in particular, arguing for two changes. The first is a move to “critical character theory,” which seeks to understand moral character as both a site and source of domination and subordination, as a center of resistance both to oppression and to change, and as both subject and object of liberatory struggle. The second change is more serious and sustained attention to theorizing vice both as damage inflicted by domination, subordination, and by struggles both to maintain and to resist and overthrow them, and as a mechanism through which domination persists and emancipation is thwarted. (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)
This volume addresses issues of moral pluralism and polarization by drawing attention to the transcendent character of the good. It probes the history of Christian theology and moral philosophy to investigate the value of this idea and then relates it to contemporary moral issues. The good is transcendent in that it goes beyond concrete goods, things, acts, or individual preferences. It functions as the pole of a compass that helps orient our moral life. This volume explores the critical tension (...) between the transcendent good and its concrete embodiments in the world through concepts like conscience, natural and divine law, virtue, and grace. The chapters are divided into three parts. Part 1 discusses metaphysical issues like the realist nature and the unity of the good in relation to philosophical, naturalist, and theological approaches from Augustine to Iris Murdoch. The chapters in Part 2 explore issues about knowing the transcendent good and doing good, exemplified in the delicate balance between divine command and human virtuousness. Early Protestant theological views prove to be excellent interlocutors for this reflection. Finally, Part 3 focuses on how transcendence is at stake in two heavily debated moral issues of today: euthanasia and the family. The Transcendent Character of the Good will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in theological ethics, moral philosophy, and the history of ethics. (shrink)