Aristotelian Virtue Theory: After the Person-Situation Debate

Social psychologists claim that the empirical evidence for the existence of behavioral dispositions is very poor, and several philosophical psychologists have understood this to mean that there is little empirical evidence for the existence of virtues,especially as Aristotle thought of them. By contrast, I think just the reverse is true – that is, the evidence from social psychology is very good news for a theory of the virtues like Aristotle’s. Along with a negative thesis about behavioral dispositions, the evidence from social psychology also suggests a positive view of personality and character, and the basic points of this positive view are ones that Aristotle himself fully embraced. If that is correct, it is time to move beyond recent philosophical debates about the merits of social psychology and Aristotelian virtue theory as allegedly rival ways of understanding human behavior.

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Publisher: University of Arizona University of Melbourne
Published in: Special issue of International Journal of Philosophical Studies
2012 Pages 37 - 63