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)
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)
The situationally disqualifying ad hominem attack is an argumentative move in critical dialogue whereby one participant points out certain features in his adversary's personal situation that are claimed to make it inappropriate for this adversary to take a particular point of view, to argue in a particular way, or to launch certain criticisms. In this paper, we discuss some examples of this way of arguing. Other types of ad hominem argumentation are discussed as well and compared with the situationally (...) disqualifying type. The socalled Houtlosser Dilemma highlights the danger of unconditionally condoning ad hominem arguments. We propose a classification of ad hominem, and a more restrictive use of the term 'circumstantial'. Finally, we discuss whether ad hominem arguments are (always?) to be rejected as fallacious. (shrink)
This paper combines methods of argumentation theory and artificial intelligence to extend existing work on the dialectical structure of crossexamination. The existing method used conflict diagrams to search for inconsistent statements in the testimony of a witness. This paper extends the method by using the inconsistency of commitments to draw an inference by the ad hominem argumentation scheme to the conclusion that the testimony is unreliable because of the bad ethical character for veracity of the witness.
This paper looks into the known evidence on the origins of the type of argument called the circumstantial ad hominemargument in modern logic textbooks, and introduces some new evidence. This new evidence comes primarily from recent historical work by Jaap Mansfeld and Jonathan Barnes citing many cases where philosophers in the ancient world were attacked on the grounds that their personal actions failed to be consistent with their philosophical teachings. On the total body of evidence, two hypotheses about the roots (...) of the circumstantial ad hominem are considered. One is that it came from Aristotle through Locke. The other is that it may have had separate roots in these ancient philosophical writings that criticized philosophers for not practicing what they preached. (shrink)
The recent literature on ad hominem argument contends that the speaker’s character is sometimes relevant to evaluating what she says. This effort to redeem ad hominems requires an analysis of character that explains why and how character is relevant. I argue that virtue epistemology supplies this analysis. Three sorts of ad hominems that attack the speaker’s intellectual character are legitimate. They attack a speaker’s: (1) possession of reliabilist vices; or (2) possession of responsibilist vices; (...) or (3) failure to perform intellectually virtuous acts. Legitimate ad hominems conclude that we should not believe what a speaker says solely on her say-so. (shrink)
In his recent book Lack of Character, John Doris argues that people typically lack character (understood in a particular way). Such a claim, if correct, would have devastating implications for moral philosophy and for various human moral projects (e.g. character development). I seek to defend character against Doris's challenging attack. To accomplish this, I draw on Socrates, Aristotle, and Kant to identify some of the central components of virtuous character. Next, I examine in detail (...) some of the central experiments in social psychology upon which Doris's argument is based. I argue that, properly understood, such experiments reveal differences in the characters of their subjects, not that their subjects lack character altogether. I conclude with some reflections on the significance of such experiments and the importance of character. (shrink)
In this paper we first briefly review Bell's (1964, 1966) Theorem to see how it invalidates any deterministic "hidden variable" account of the apparent indeterminacy of quantum mechanics (QM). Then we show that quantum uncertainty, at the level of DNA mutations, can "percolate" up to have major populational effects. Interesting as this point may be it does not show any autonomous indeterminism of the evolutionary process. In the next two sections we investigate drift and natural selection as the locus of (...) autonomous biological indeterminacy. Here we conclude that the population-level indeterminacy of natural selection and drift are ultimately based on the assumption of a fundamental indeterminacy at the level of the lives and deaths of individual organisms. The following section examines this assumption and defends it from the determinists' attack. Then we show that, even if one rejects the assumption, there is still an important reason why one might think evolutionary theory (ET) is autonomously indeterministic. In the concluding section we contrast the arguments we have mounted against a deterministic hidden variable account of ET with the proof of the impossibility of such an account of QM. (shrink)
This paper develops and critiques the two-dimensionalist account of mental content developed by David Chalmers. I first explain Chalmers's account and show that it resists some popular criticisms. I then argue that the main interest of two-dimensionalism lies in its accounts of cognitive significance and of the connection between conceivability and possibility. These accounts hinge on the claim that some thoughts have a primary intension that is necessarily true. In this respect, they are Carnapian, and subject to broadly Quinean (...) class='Hi'>attack. The remainder of the paper advances such an attack. I argue that there are possible thinkers who are willing to revise their beliefs in response to expert testimony, and that such thinkers will have no thoughts with necessary primary intensions. I even suggest that many actual humans may well be such thinkers. I go on to argue that these possible thinkers show that the two-dimensionalist accounts fail. (shrink)
In an article contributed to Mind in 1934, the young A. J. Ayer declared war on metaphysics, claiming that his destruction of the metaphysicians' arguments rested on the establishment of the sheerly non-sensical character of their statements. Their errors were syntactical; the combination of symbols in the sentences with which they expressed their propositions violated fundamental principles of significance.
While there are alternative accounts, many virtue theories are character based, that is, they assert that the primary loci if moral evaluation are a person's character traits. According to these theories, any individual human being is good insogar as she possesses certain character traits, the virtues, and does not possess their antipodes, the vices. Gilbert Harman has attacked this view by citing evidence in empirical psychology that human behaviour is explained by situational factors to the exclusion of (...) stable dispositions of character. In this paper I argue that Harman's attack fails, firstly because his target is too wide, meaning that the traits tested for are not of the type most relevant to virtue theory, and secondly because he cannot dispense with character traits for explaining behaviour. (shrink)
Political leaders’ debates are an important and highly visible instances of public argumentation. As such, they merit scholarly attention. This essay applies the Functional Theory of Political Campaign Discourse to analyze televised presidential debates from the Ukraine in 2004. Overall, this analysis revealed that acclaims were the most common function, followed by attacks and then defenses. Policy was addressed more often than character in these debates, as expected. The incumbent candidate acclaimed significantly more and attacked less than the challenger. (...) The incumbents used past deeds significantly more often to acclaim – and less to attack – than the challengers. Finally, general goals and ideals were used more as the basis for acclaims than attacks in these debates. Implications of these results are discussed. (shrink)
This essay argues that Hume’s criticism of slavery in “Of the Populousness of Ancient Nations,” despite its contribution to the British Enlightenment’s anti-slavery movement, is not truly abolitionist in character. Hume’s aim was not to put an end to contemporary slave practices or forestall their expansion. Nonetheless, the criticism of slavery proves significant for reasons that transcend the demographic questions of the essay. It supports an argument that Hume develops throughout the Essays and Political Discourses. The conclusion of this (...) argument warns against reverence for either ancient systems or modern progress. Like all forms of factionalism, these divisive tendencies threaten to compromise both our moral sensibility and our rational judgment. (shrink)
I began this project with a few thoughts on one topic, and they grew into many on a larger one. I wanted to say something about vulnerability and discovered that there was much to say about human dignity. Once a rather die-hard Kantian, I have made over the last decade or so a fairly radical transition to a basically Aristotelian way of thinking. Persistent thoughts over the status of personal ties in the moral life first led me away from Kant (...) and toward Aristotle. Though I think some of the criticisms of Kant regarding friendship, for example, are misguided, in the end I do not think Kant gives us a very satisfactory way of thinking about what is most important to us in personal relationships. What Kant is supposed to give us, however, is an insightful way of thinking about human dignity and the worth of persons. I do not believe he does. In fact, I think that Kant and his predecessors, the Christians and the Stoics, deeply mislead us about our dignity. In this sense, this book is an attack on a certain tradition and what is thought to be its greatest strength. I hope, however, that what emerges is more positive than negative, that what I say provides some insight into what we actually do value in ourselves and others. (shrink)
In the last chapter of Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy , Bernard Williams brings to a conclusion a sustained attack on the pretensions of moral theory by arguing against the allegedly objective reality of moral obligation. It had been a theme of the book that, while there can be answers to the questions of how one should live and order one's social relationships—answers which, in a given culture, go to make up its ethics —there is no place for (...) a morality or a moral theory which would claim to give externally binding answers to such questions. We will be explaining the notion of an ‘externally binding answer’ later in this paper, but for the moment we can take such an answer to be one that applies to people irrespective of their beliefs or desires. Williams considers Kant to have been the main proponent of the notion of morality in this sense, with the latter's stress on obligation as central to the institution of morality. (shrink)
Three common strategies used by informal logicians are considered: (1) the appeal to standard cases, (2) the attempt to partially formalize so-called "informal fallacies," and (3) restatement of arguments in such a way as to make their logical character more perspicuous. All three strategies are found to be useful. Attention is drawn to several advantages of a "stock case" approach, a minimalist approach to formalization is recommended, and doubts are raised about the applicability, from a logical point of view, (...) of a principle of charitable construal in the reconstruction of arguments. (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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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 ...
Experiences like pains, pleasures, and emotions have affective phenomenal character: they feel pleasant or unpleasant. Imperativism proposes to explain affective phenomenal character by appeal to imperative content, a kind of intentional content that directs rather than describes. We argue that imperativism is on the right track, but has been developed in the wrong way. There are two varieties of imperativism on the market: first-order and higher-order. We show that neither is successful, and offer in their place a new (...) theory: reflexive imperativism. Our proposal is that an experience P feels pleasant in virtue of being (at least partly) constituted by a Command with reflexive imperative content (1), while an experience U feels unpleasant in virtue of being (at least partly) constituted by a Command with reflexive imperative content (2): -/- (1) More of P! (2) Less of U! -/- If you need a slogan: experiences have affective phenomenal character in virtue of commanding us Get more of me!, Get less of me! (shrink)
Character judgments play an important role in our everyday lives. However, decades of empirical research on trait attribution suggest that the cognitive processes that generate these judgments are prone to a number of biases and cognitive distortions. This gives rise to a skeptical worry about the epistemic foundations of everyday characterological beliefs that has deeply disturbing and alienating consequences. In this paper, I argue that this skeptical worry is misplaced: under the appropriate informational conditions, our everyday character-trait judgments (...) are in fact quite trustworthy. I then propose a mindreading-based model of the socio-cognitive processes underlying trait attribution that explains both why these judgments are initially unreliable, and how they eventually become more accurate. (shrink)
One way to frame the problem of moral luck is as a contradiction in our ordinary ideas about moral responsibility. In the case of two identical reckless drivers where one kills a pedestrian and the other does not, we tend to intuit that they are and are not equally blameworthy. The Character Response sorts these intuitions in part by providing an account of moral responsibility: the drivers must be equally blameworthy, because they have identical character traits and people (...) are originally praiseworthy and blameworthy in virtue of and only in virtue of their character traits. After explicating two versions of the Character Response, I argue that they both involve implausible accounts of moral responsibility and fail to provide a good solution to the problem of moral luck. I close by noting how proponents of moral luck can preserve a kernel of truth from the Character Response to explain away the intuition that the drivers are equally blameworthy. (shrink)
In Against Moral Responsibility, Bruce Waller launches a spirited attack on a system that is profoundly entrenched in our society and its institutions, deeply rooted in our emotions, and vigorously defended by philosophers from ancient times to the present. Waller argues that, despite the creative defenses of it by contemporary thinkers, moral responsibility cannot survive in our naturalistic-scientific system. The scientific understanding of human behavior and the causes that shape human character, he contends, leaves no room for moral (...) responsibility. Waller argues that moral responsibility in all its forms--including criminal justice, distributive justice, and all claims of just deserts--is fundamentally unfair and harmful and that its abolition will be liberating and beneficial. What we really want--natural human free will, moral judgments, meaningful human relationships, creative abilities--would survive and flourish without moral responsibility. In the course of his argument, Waller examines the origins of the basic belief in moral responsibility, proposes a naturalistic understanding of free will, offers a detailed argument against moral responsibility and critiques arguments in favor of it, gives a general account of what a world without moral responsibility would look like, and examines the social and psychological aspects of abolishing moral responsibility. Waller not only mounts a vigorous, and philosophically rigorous, attack on the moral responsibility system, but also celebrates the benefits that would result from its total abolition. (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)
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).
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)
. 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)
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)
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)
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 my account, 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)
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)
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.
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)
Cosmopolitan critics attack the scope-limitation of justice of egalitarian liberal theorists to states. They treat justice as the production of a given set of outcomes for people regardless of location or relationship. However, in doing so they either ignore the relevant agent towards whom principles of justice are addressed or see the question of agency as a practical, derivative question, of a secondary character. This paper argues that a principle of justice without a clearly justified agent is not (...) a genuine principle at all. This is what writers like Rawls mean by the "subject" of justice (analogous to the grammatical subject of a sentence, i.e.,the agent). We should reflect on agents and why they would or would not justifiably carry certain burdens for others and what kind of benefits or goods they are able to secure. The answers to those questions explain why the idea of cosmopolitan global justice is incomplete, either requiring a global basic structural agency or not applying because no relevant agent is present that can create cooperative arrangements between individual persons across the globe. Other moral principles will still apply globally, but they will be distinct from those that apply to basic-structural agencies. This account is not a practice dependence account, as it bases the distinctness of moral and political principles on purely moral and value-based considerations. (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)
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)
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 turn of the century saw a significant increase in the amount of attention being paid by philosophers to empirical issues about moral character. Dating back at least to Plato and Aristotle in the West, and Confucius in the East, philosophers have traditionally drawn on empirical data to some extent in their theorizing about character. One of the main differences in recent years has been the source of this empirical data, namely the work of social and personality psychologists (...) on morally relevant thought and action. -/- This entry briefly examines four recent empirical approaches to moral character. It will draw on the psychology literature where appropriate, but the main focus will be on the significance of that work for philosophers interested in better understanding moral character. The four areas are situationism, the CAPS model, the Big Five model, and the VIA. The remainder of this entry devotes a section to each of them. (shrink)
A landmark work of western philosophy, "On the Genealogy of Morality" is a dazzling and brilliantly incisive attack on European "morality". Combining philosophical acuity with psychological insight in prose of remarkable rhetorical power, Nietzsche takes up the task of offering us reasons to engage in a re-evaluation of our values. In this book, David Owen offers a reflective and insightful analysis of Nietzsche's text. He provides an account of how Nietzsche comes to the project of the re-evaluation of values; (...) he shows how the development of Nietzsche's understanding of the requirements of this project lead him to acknowledge the need for the kind of investigation of "morality" that he terms "genealogy"; he elucidates the general structure and substantive arguments of Nietzsche's text, accounting for the rhetorical form of these arguments, and he debates the character of genealogy as a form of critical enquiry. Owen argues that there is a specific development of Nietzsche's work from his earlier "Daybreak" and that in "Genealogy of Morality", Nietzsche is developing a critique of modes of agency and that this constitutes the most fundamental aspect of his demand for a revaluation of values. The book is a distinctive and significant contribution to our understanding of Nietzsche's great text. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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)