Scepticism about Virtue and the Five-Factor Model of Personality

Utilitas 29 (4):423-452 (2017)


Considerable progress in personality and social psychology has been largely ignored by philosophers, many of whom still remain sceptical concerning whether the conception of character presupposed by virtue theory is descriptively adequate. Here, I employ the five-factor model of personality, currently the consensus view in personality psychology, to respond to a strong reading of the situationist challenge, whereby most people lack dispositions that are both cross-situationally consistent and temporally stable. I show that situationists rely on a false dichotomy between character traits and situations, and that evidence supports the empirical adequacy of the sorts of character traits presupposed by virtue ethics. Additionally, I suggest that the personality traits of the five-factor model are relevant to virtue theory, in so far as they are malleable, morally salient, and seem to structurally parallel Aristotelian virtues and vices. Thus, contra situationism, the five-factor model supports the descriptive adequacy of a virtue-theoretical framework.

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Panos Paris
Cardiff University

Citations of this work

On Form, and the Possibility of Moral Beauty.Panos Paris - 2018 - Metaphilosophy 49 (5):711-729.

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