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Character and Moral Psychology

Oxford University Press (2014)

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  1. Borderline Personality Disorder and the Boundaries of Virtue.Katie Harster - 2021 - Neuroethics 14 (3):479-490.
    Individuals with conditions like borderline personality disorder experience chronic, pervasive impairments that interfere with moral functioning. Even in recovery these individuals are plagued by residual symptoms, requiring diligence and management. First, I stipulate that some individuals who recover from BPD act morally. I argue that by acting morally while managing residual symptoms these individuals expand the boundaries of traditional Aristotelian virtue. Individuals who recover from BPD are simultaneously virtuous and outside the boundaries of traditional Aristotelian virtue if they meet the (...)
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  • In Defense of Ordinary Moral Character Judgment.Evan Westra - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-19.
    Moral character judgments pervade our everyday social interactions. But are these judgments epistemically reliable? In this paper, I discuss a challenge to the reliability of ordinary virtue and vice attribution that emerges from Christian Miller’s Mixed Traits theory of moral character, which entails that the majority of our ordinary moral character judgments are false. In response to this challenge, I argue that a key prediction of this theory is not borne out by the available evidence; this evidence further suggests that (...)
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  • Cultivating Virtue in Postgraduates: An Empirical Study of the Oxford Global Leadership Initiative.Jonathan Brant, Michael Lamb, Emily Burdett & Edward Brooks - 2020 - Journal of Moral Education 49 (4):415-435.
    ABSTRACT Although virtue ethics has emerged as an influential ethical theory within the academy, universities have not generally taken up the practical task of virtue cultivation. Some academics even resist the effort altogether. In response, this article presents an early-stage evaluation of one effort to cultivate virtue in postgraduate students, a theoretically derived and empirically measured character development programme at the University of Oxford. The study uses a pre- and post-test experimental design to assess whether participation results in measurable growth (...)
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  • Exemplarist Moral Theory – Some Pros and Cons.Natasza Szutta - 2019 - Journal of Moral Education 48 (3):280-290.
    ABSTRACTThe article makes a number of critical remarks concerning Linda Zagzebski’s exemplarism. On the positive side, I argue that one of its strengths is the focus on motivation as an important factor in moral education whilst, on the negative, I draw attention to two issues. The first is that Zagzebski’s notion of moral exemplars is insufficient since it is too narrow, merely focusing as it does on high standard moral heroes while neglecting more usual moral agents who at least in (...)
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  • Realistic Virtues and How to Study Them: Introducing the STRIVE-4 Model.Bradford Cokelet & Blaine J. Fowers - 2019 - Journal of Moral Education 48 (1):7-26.
    This article argues that ordinary virtue trait attributions presuppose the existence of realistic traits that fall short of, for example, Aristotelian ideals and that debate about the existence of virtue traits should be reoriented in the light of this fact. After clarifying and motivating that basic thesis, we discuss what the existing psychological research shows about the existence of realistic traits and how future psychological research could be designed to show more. Our first conclusion is that current psychological research (weakly) (...)
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  • On Kristjánsson on Aristotelian Character Education.Christian B. Miller - 2016 - Journal of Moral Education 45 (4):490-501.
    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 (...)
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  • Epistemic Situationism and Cognitive Ability.John Turri - 2017 - In Epistemic Situationism. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 158-167.
    Leading virtue epistemologists defend the view that knowledge must proceed from intellectual virtue and they understand virtues either as refned character traits cultivated by the agent over time through deliberate effort, or as reliable cognitive abilities. Philosophical situationists argue that results from empirical psychology should make us doubt that we have either sort of epistemic virtue, thereby discrediting virtue epistemology’s empirical adequacy. I evaluate this situationist challenge and outline a successor to virtue epistemology: abilism . Abilism delivers all the main (...)
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  • Tracking Eudaimonia.Paul Bloomfield - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10 (2).
    A basic challenge to naturalistic moral realism is that, even if moral properties existed, there would be no way to naturalistically represent or track them. Here, the basic structure for a tracking account of moral epistemology is given in empirically respectable terms, based on a eudaimonist conception of morality. The goal is to show how this form of moral realism can be seen as consistent with the details of evolutionary biology as well as being amenable to the most current understanding (...)
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  • Situationism and the Problem of Moral Improvement.Matthew C. Taylor - 2019 - Philosophical Explorations 22 (3):312-327.
    A wealth of research in social psychology indicates that various ethically arbitrary situational factors exert a surprisingly powerful influence on moral conduct. Empirically-minded philosophers have argued over the last two decades that this evidence challenges Aristotelian virtue ethics. John Doris, Gilbert Harman, and Maria Merritt have argued that situationist moral psychology – as opposed to Aristotelian moral psychology – is better suited to the practical aim of helping agents act better. The Aristotelian account, with its emphasis on individual factors, invites (...)
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  • The Concepts of Virtue After the „Character – Situation” Debate.Natasza Anna Szutta - 2021 - Scientia et Fides 9 (2):55-74.
    The article focuses on a currently hot debate in contemporary ethics that takes place between so-called situationists and the advocates of virtue ethics. The fundamental assumption made by virtue ethics is that developing and perfecting one’s moral character or moral virtues warrants one’s morally good action. Situationists claim that this assumption contradicts the results of the latest empirical studies. From this observation, they conclude that virtue ethics is based on an empirically inadequate moral psychology.In the first part of the article, (...)
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  • Heavenly Freedom and Two Models of Character Perfection.Robert J. Hartman - 2021 - Faith and Philosophy 38 (1):45-64.
    Human persons can act with libertarian freedom in heaven according to one prominent view, because they have freely acquired perfect virtue in their pre-heavenly lives such that acting rightly in heaven is volitionally necessary. But since the character of human persons is not perfect at death, how is their character perfected? On the unilateral model, God alone completes the perfection of their character, and, on the cooperative model, God continues to work with them in purgatory to perfect their own character. (...)
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  • Taste, traits, and tendencies.Alexander Dinges & Julia Zakkou - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1183-1206.
    Many experiential properties are naturally understood as dispositions such that e.g. a cake tastes good to you iff you are disposed to get gustatory pleasure when you eat it. Such dispositional analyses, however, face a challenge. It has been widely observed that one cannot properly assert “The cake tastes good to me” unless one has tried it. This acquaintance requirement is puzzling on the dispositional account because it should be possible to be disposed to like the cake even if this (...)
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  • Help! Virtue Profiles and Horses for Courses.David Lumsden & Joseph Ulatowski - forthcoming - Australasian Philosophical Review.
    Glen Pettigrove addresses the proportionality principle in ethics, the principle that “our actions, attitudes, or emotions should be proportional to the degree of value present in the object or events to which they are responding” [p. 1]. He argues this is inconsistent with some familiar features of common-sense morality. In response, he brings virtuous character into the picture, a move we support but wish to modify. We show that certain helping actions should be guided by whether one has the virtue (...)
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  • Assessing Two Competing Approaches to the Psychology of Moral Judgments.Christian B. Miller - 2016 - Philosophical Explorations 19 (1):28-47.
    This paper brings together the social intuitionist view of the psychology of moral judgments developed by Jonathan Haidt, and the recent morphological rationalist position of Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons. I will end up suggesting that Horgan and Timmons have offered us a more plausible account of the psychology of moral judgment formation. But the view is not without its own difficulties. Indeed, one of them might prove to be quite serious, as it could support a form of skepticism about (...)
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  • Consistent Egoists and Situation Managers: Two Problems for Situationism.Pauline Kleingeld - 2015 - Philosophical Explorations 18 (3):344-361.
    According to philosophical “situationism”, psychological evidence shows that human action is typically best explained by the influence of situational factors and not by “global” and robust character traits of the agent. As a practical implication of their view, situationists recommend that efforts in moral education be shifted from character development to situation management. Much of the discussion has focused on whether global conceptions of virtue and character, and in particular Aristotelian virtue ethics, can be defended against the situationist challenge. After (...)
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  • Embodied Situationism.Somogy Varga - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (2):271-286.
    Drawing on empirical material from social psychology, ‘situationism’ argues that the astonishing susceptibility of moral behaviour to situational influences undermines certain conceptions of character. The related, albeit more limited, thesis proposed in this paper, ‘embodied situationism’, engages a larger number of empirical sources from different fields of study and sheds light on the mechanisms responsible for particular, seemingly puzzling, situational judgments and behaviours. It is demonstrated that the empirical material supports the claims of ES and that ES is immune to (...)
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  • Epistemic Trespassing.Nathan Ballantyne - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):367-395.
    Epistemic trespassers judge matters outside their field of expertise. Trespassing is ubiquitous in this age of interdisciplinary research and recognizing this will require us to be more intellectually modest.
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  • Moral Lessons From Psychology: Contemporary Themes in Psychological Research and Their Relevance for Ethical Theory.Henrik Ahlenius - 2020 - Stockholm: Stockholm University.
    The thesis investigates the implications for moral philosophy of research in psychology. In addition to an introduction and concluding remarks, the thesis consists of four chapters, each exploring various more specific challenges or inputs to moral philosophy from cognitive, social, personality, developmental, and evolutionary psychology. Chapter 1 explores and clarifies the issue of whether or not morality is innate. The chapter’s general conclusion is that evolution has equipped us with a basic suite of emotions that shape our moral judgments in (...)
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  • Character and Situationism: New Directions.Christian B. Miller - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (3):459-471.
    The early work by Gilbert Harman and John Doris on character and situationism has fostered a vast literature over the past 15 years. Yet despite all this work, there are many important issues which remain largely unexplored. The goal of this paper is to briefly outline eight promising research directions: neglected moral virtues, neglected non-moral virtues, virtue assessment and measurement, replication, non-Aristotelian virtue ethics, positive accounts of character trait possession, prescriptive situationism, and virtue cultivation.
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  • CAPS Psychology and the Empirical Adequacy of Aristotelian Virtue Ethics.Laura Papish - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (3):537-549.
    For the past decade and a half, Aristotelians have tried to counter the following criticism articulated by John Doris: if we look at personality and social psychology research, we must conclude that we generally neither have, nor have the capacity to develop, character traits of the kind envisioned by Aristotle and his followers. Some defenses of Aristotelian virtue ethics proceed by trying to insulate it from this challenge, while others have tried to dissipate the force of Doris's critique by showing (...)
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  • Difficult Circumstances: Situationism and Ability.Marcela Herdova & Stephen Kearns - 2019 - Journal of Ethical Urban Living 2 (1):63-91.
    Certain aspects of our situations often influence us in significant and negative ways, without our knowledge (call this claim “situationism”). One possible explanation of their influence is that they affect our abilities. In this paper, we address two main questions. Do these situational factors rid us of our abilities to act on our sufficient reasons? Do situational factors make it more difficult for us to exercise our abilities to act for sufficient reasons? We argue for the answer ‘sometimes’ to both (...)
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  • Experimental Moral Philosophy.Mark Alfano & Don Loeb - 2014 - In Edward Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Experimental moral philosophy began to emerge as a methodology inthe last decade of the twentieth century, a branch of the largerexperimental philosophy approach. From the beginning,it has been embroiled in controversy on a number of fronts. Somedoubt that it is philosophy at all. Others acknowledge that it isphilosophy but think that it has produced modest results at best andconfusion at worst. Still others think it represents an important advance., Before the research program can be evaluated, we should have someconception of (...)
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  • Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse & Glen Pettigrove - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. We begin by discussing two concepts that are central to all forms of virtue ethics, namely, virtue and practical wisdom. Then we note some of the features that distinguish different virtue ethical theories from one another before turning to objections that have been raised against virtue ethics and responses offered on its behalf. We conclude with a look at some of the directions in which future research might develop.
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  • Virtue Measurement: Theory and Applications.Nancy E. Snow, Jennifer Cole Wright & Michael T. Warren - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (2):277-293.
    Our primary aim in this paper is to sketch the account of virtue that we think most amenable to virtue measurement. Our account integrates Whole Trait Theory from psychology with a broadly neo-Aristotelian approach to virtue. Our account is ‘ecumenical’ in that it has appeal for a wide range of virtue ethicists. According to WTT, a personality trait is composed of a set of situation-specific trait-appropriate responses, which are produced when certain “social-cognitive” mechanisms are triggered by the perception of trait-relevant (...)
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  • Virtue Vs. Virtue Ethics.Christoph Halbig - 2020 - Zeitschrift Für Ethik Und Moralphilosophie 3 (2):301-313.
    The present article sets out to defend the thesis that among the more or less familiar enemies or challenges an adequate theory of virtue has to cope with is another, less obvious one – virtue ethics itself. The project of establishing virtue ethics as a third paradigm of normative ethics at eye level with consequentialism and deontological approaches to ethics threatens to distort not just our ethical thinking but the theory of virtue itself. A theory of virtue that is able (...)
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  • Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility?Michael McKenna & Brandon Warmke - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (6):698-733.
    The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported by experimental results. Most of the ensuing philosophical controversy has focused upon issues related to moral psychology and ethical theory. More recently, the influence of situationism has also given rise to questions regarding free will (...)
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  • The Empirical Argument Against Virtue.Candace Upton - 2016 - The Journal of Ethics 20 (4):355-371.
    The virtues are under fire. Several decades’ worth of social psychological findings establish a correlation between human behavior and the situation moral agents inhabit, from which a cadre of moral philosophers concludes that most moral agents lack the virtues. Mark Alfano and Christian Miller introduce novel versions of this argument, but they are subject to a fatal dilemma. Alfano and Miller wrongly assume that their requirements for virtue apply universally to moral agents, who vary radically in their psychological, physiological, and (...)
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  • Dilemmas for the Rarity Thesis in Virtue Ethics and Virtue Epistemology.J. Blumenthal-Barby - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (2):395-406.
    “Situationists” such as Gilbert Harman and John Doris have accused virtue ethicists as having an “empirically inadequate” theory, arguing that much of social science research suggests that people do not have robust character traits as traditionally thought. By far, the most common response to this challenge has been what I refer to as “the rarity response” or the “rarity thesis”. Rarity responders deny that situationism poses any sort of threat to virtue ethics since there is no reason to suppose that (...)
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  • Empirical Adequacy and Virtue Ethics.Philip Reed - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2):343-357.
    Situationists contend that virtue ethics is empirically inadequate. However, it is my contention that there is much confusion over what “empirical adequacy” or “empirical inadequacy” actually means in this context. My aim in this paper is to clarify the meanings of empirical adequacy in order to see to what extent virtue ethics might fail to meet this standard. I argue that the situationists frequently misconstrue the empirical commitments of virtue ethics. More importantly, depending on what we mean by empirical adequacy, (...)
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  • Moral Psychology: Empirical Approaches.John Doris & Stephen Stich - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Moral psychology investigates human functioning in moral contexts, and asks how these results may impact debate in ethical theory. This work is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on both the empirical resources of the human sciences and the conceptual resources of philosophical ethics. The present article discusses several topics that illustrate this type of inquiry: thought experiments, responsibility, character, egoism v . altruism, and moral disagreement.
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  • Experimental Moral Philosophy.Mark Alfano, Don Loeb & Alex Plakias - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1-32.
    Experimental moral philosophy emerged as a methodology in the last decade of the twentieth century, as a branch of the larger experimental philosophy (X-Phi) approach. Experimental moral philosophy is the empirical study of moral intuitions, judgments, and behaviors. Like other forms of experimental philosophy, it involves gathering data using experimental methods and using these data to substantiate, undermine, or revise philosophical theories. In this case, the theories in question concern the nature of moral reasoning and judgment; the extent and sources (...)
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  • Mixed Traits and Dispositions: Critical Discussion of Christian Miller, ‘Moral Character: An Empirical Theory’ and ‘Character and Moral Psychology’.Tom Bates - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (2):421-424.
    “Moral Character: An Empirical Theory” and “Character and Moral Psychology” represent part of the research output of the Templeton-funded Character Project, which was headed by Christian Miller. In ‘Moral Character’, Miller develops his “mixed trait” account of character. The first two parts consist in conceptual background and the empirical grounding for his account . In part three Miller develops and describes his account, before showing the extent of its application in part four . In ‘Character and Moral Psychology”, he gives (...)
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  • Distributive Justice and Empirical Moral Psychology.Christian Miller - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:Online.
    Bargaining games typically involve two players distributing a specific payoff (usually money), and will be our focus here, as they are especially helpful for examining the moral psychology of justice. Examples include the ultimatum game and dictator game. We will also look at a novel twist on the dictator game by the psychologist Daniel Batson, which has fostered a large experimental literature on what he calls ‘moral hypocrisy.’ Finally we will connect this discussion of economic games to the virtue of (...)
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