Character as Moral Fiction by Mark Alfano

By Mark Alfano

Every body desires to be virtuous, yet fresh mental investigations recommend that this would possibly not be attainable. Mark Alfano demanding situations this idea and asks, now not even if personality is empirically enough, yet what characters people can have and strengthen. even though psychology means that most folk shouldn't have strong personality characteristics corresponding to braveness, honesty and open-mindedness, Alfano argues that we have got cause to characteristic those virtues to humans simply because such attributions functionality as self-fulfilling prophecies – kids develop into extra studious in the event that they are instructed that they're hard-working and adults develop into extra beneficiant in the event that they are advised that they're beneficiant. He argues that we should always contemplate advantage and personality as social constructs: there's no such factor as advantage with out social reinforcement. His unique and provocative booklet will curiosity a variety of readers in modern ethics, epistemology, ethical psychology and empirically educated philosophy.

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139, n. 5). Someone hardly counts as temperate if he only goes on one bender a week. It seems to me that Adams may be moving too far from the notion of virtue when he introduces the notion of duties, but a related distinction between high-fidelity and low-fidelity virtues would do most of the same work. A high-fidelity virtue requires near-perfect consistency, whereas a low-fidelity virtue requires much higher consistency than one would expect without the trait in question. The high-fidelity virtues include chastity, fairness, fidelity, honesty, justice, and trustworthiness.

The devil is of course in the details. What’s a large enough proportion? Over half? Nearly half? More than a third? And what does it mean to be “close enough to being fully honest” (or generous)? These are difficult questions that I will only attempt to answer over the course of the book, not in this chapter. For now, I will merely gesture at a weaker version of the egalitarianism condition that I think is at once sufficiently contentful and minimally plausible: almost anyone can act in accordance with virtue; indeed, almost anyone can reliably act in accordance with virtue.

And in a study conducted by Darley and Latané (1968), subjects who heard a confederate in another room endure a simulated epileptic seizure were most likely to intervene when alone (85 percent), next most likely when there was one other bystander (62 percent), and least likely when there were four other bystanders (31 percent). What’s more, reaction times were inversely correlated with the number of bystanders. These results are extremely robust, as Latané and Nida’s (1981) meta-analysis shows; moreover, they have stood the test of time, as Schwartz and Gottlieb’s (1991) more recent replication indicates.

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