Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The case for character: A reply to situationism
by Lee, Brandon C., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2013, 158; 3607160
Abstract (Summary)

The notion of character is a familiar and prominent part of ethical theorizing, and of our everyday discourse. Character is used to explain how people act, to predict what they will do, to judge whether they ought to be trusted, and utilized in a multitude of other ways. A camp of philosophers dubbed the "Situationists", however, argue that research in social psychology shows the notion of character as we traditionally understand it is empirically unsupported, and consequently that all our discourse and ethical thought involving character is gravely mistaken. Instead, these philosophers contend that what influences and informs our perception and actions is largely traceable to the situations we find ourselves in. This dissertation will aim to defend the plausibility of character against this challenge by the Situationists. To do so, it begins by examining the traditional notion of character that is prevalent in ethical theorizing - derived in large part from Aristotle's view of character - and the empirical evidence that Situationists claim undercut the plausibility of that notion. Thereafter, a reply to the Situationists will be offered, arguing that there is persuasive evidence that speaks in favor of character, and moreover, that a character-based explanation of the evidence is more convincing than the account that Situationists propose. The goal of the project is to show that the traditional notion of character is more tenable than Situationists have claimed, and that we are not gravely mistaken by including it in our ethical thought and everyday discourse. In fact, rather than eschewing the notion of character, the dissertation aims to establish that we have strong reasons to continue building the case for it.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cohon, Rachel
Commitee: D'Cruz, Jason, Wagner, David
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Philosophy
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy, Social psychology
Keywords: Aristotle, Character, Ethical theorizing, Situationism, Virtue
Publication Number: 3607160
ISBN: 978-1-303-64572-3
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