Philosophy In The Community-Do We Lack Moral Character?

The next Philosophy in the Community is Jan.  12, 7:00 – 9:00 pm at:

The Refinery, St. James Church Basement

609 Dufferin Avenue (at 12th Street, just off Broadway)

This months lecture is “Do We Lack Moral Character?” by Professor Emer O’Hagan

Some social scientists and philosophers have recently argued that experimental evidence indicates that there is no such thing as a robust character trait. They conclude that what a person does on a particular occasion is best understood as arising from the situation, not the person, and so endorse “situationism”. People who we would not think of as cruel, for example, will nonetheless behave cruelly under conditions which promote cruelty. If social psychologists can show that the difference between good and bad conduct resides in the situation, not in the person, then it seems that we should abandon the idea that moral virtues and vices exist, and we should abandon moral theories which rely upon these concepts. In this talk I’ll consider some of the experimental evidence, some of the responses to it, and argue that the evidence from social psychology doesn’t undercut our appeal to character.


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