Journal Article

Character and Consistency: Still More Errors

Gopal Sreenivasan

in Mind

Published on behalf of Mind Association

Volume 117, issue 467, pages 603-612
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0026-4423
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2113 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mind/fzn046
Character and Consistency: Still More Errors

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This paper continues a debate among philosophers concerning the implications of situationist experiments in social psychology for the theory of virtue. In a previous paper (2002), I argued among other things that the sort of character trait problematized by Hartshorne and May's (1928) famous study of honesty is not the right sort to trouble the theory of virtue. Webber (2006) criticizes my argument, alleging that it founders on an ambiguity in ‘cross-situational consistency’ and that Milgram's (1974) obedience experiment is immune to the objections I levelled against Hartshorne and May. Here I respond to his criticisms. The most important error in Webber's argument is that it overlooks a distinction between ‘one time performance’ experiments and ‘iterated trial’ experiments. I explain why the former cannot begin to trouble the theory of virtue.

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Subjects: Metaphysics ; Epistemology ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Language

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