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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

On the basis of psychological research, a group of philosophers known as “situationists” argue that the evidence belies the existence of broad (“global”) character traits. They argue that this condemns as psychologically unrealistic those traditions in moral theory in which global virtues are upheld as ideals. After a survey of the debate to date, this chapter argues that the thesis of situationism is ill-supported by the available evidence. Situationists overlook the explanatory potential of a large class of global vices, namely, vices that do not involve other-directed malevolence, such as laziness, cowardice, and selfishness. A detailed discussion of the relevant empirical studies bearing on moral psychology shows that once one takes seriously the possibility that such vices are widespread, global character traits may well turn out to be abundant.

Keywords: character, character trait, moral psychology, situationism, vice, virtue

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