Instilling Virtue

In Alberto Masala & Jonathan Webber (eds.), From Personality to Virtue. Oxford University Press. pp. 134-154 (2016)
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Two debates in contemporary philosophical moral psychology have so far been conducted almost entirely in isolation from one another despite their structural similarity. One is the debate over the importance for virtue ethics of the results of situational manipulation experiments in social psychology. The other is the debate over the ethical implications of experiments that reveal gender and race biases in social cognition. In both cases, the ethical problem posed cannot be identified without first clarifying the cognitive structures underlying the problematic phenomena. In this chapter, I argue that the two kinds of phenomena share a basic cognitive structure, which is well articulated by the findings of the empirical psychology of attitudes, especially if these findings are understood in the context of the cognitive-affective system theory of personality. On the basis of this joint construal of situationism and implicit bias, I argue that the negative programme of ethical improvement that many philosophers recommend in response to one or other problem is unrealistic. Instead, we should consider more seriously the prospects of the positive programme of ethical improvement recommended by Aristotle, the direct aim of which is to instil deeply in ourselves the values at the heart of each of the virtues



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Jonathan Webber
Cardiff University

Citations of this work

Habituation and first-person authority.Jonathan Webber - 2016 - In Roman Altshuler & Michael Sigrist (eds.), Time and the Philosophy of Action. Routledge.
Character and Situationism: New Directions.Christian B. Miller - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (3):459-471.
Introduction to Symposium on New Work on Character.Christian B. Miller - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (6):621-622.
Virtue Argumentation and Bias.Aberdein Andrew - 2016 - Argumentation, Objectivity and Bias: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation (OSSA), May 18--21, 2016.

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