Abstract
Virtue ethics has emerged as an alternative to deontological and utilitarian theory in recent moral philosophy. The basic notion of virtue ethics is to reassert the importance of virtuous character in ethical judgement in contrast to the emphasis on principles and consequences. Since questions of virtue have been largely neglected in modern moral theory, there has been a return to Aristotles account of virtue as character. This in turn has been questioned as the basis of virtue ethics and there has been a search for alternative accounts of moral agency. One aspect of this critical reflection on virtue ethics is an engagement with social psychology as a source of criticism of the Aristotelian conception of character and as a more plausible alternative foundation for a theory of moral character with contemporary relevance. This paper aims to introduce this area of moral theory to a psychological audience and reflect on the interpretation of social psychological theory and evidence in criticisms of virtuous character, focusing on the use of Milgrams (1974) experiments on obedience to authority as an argument for situationism. A number of questions emerge concerning the interpretation and use of social psychological theory and evidence in debates within moral philosophy
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