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Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 6$
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Mark Timmons

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790587

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790587.001.0001

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Character as a Mode of Evaluation

Character as a Mode of Evaluation

Chapter:
(p.56) 3 Character as a Mode of Evaluation
Source:
Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 6
Author(s):

Kate Abramson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790587.003.0004

Character traits, including virtues and vices, are standardly treated as a distinct kind of psychological attribute, distinct from other psychological attributes such as forms of mental health and illness and natural abilities and inabilities. This chapter challenges the standard view, arguing that various ways of trying to distinguish character traits, natural abilities/inabilities, and aspects of mental health and illness as being distinct psychological kinds fail to correspond to our shared practices of psychological classification. The chapter then proceeds to introduce and defend a conception of traits that concern modes of evaluation, rather than psychological kinds. According to this proposal, questions about how to classify a psychological attribute depend on the suitability of various modes of evaluation including moral, medical, and natural ability modes, which differ in content, normative implications, and conditions of application.

Keywords:   character, traits, virtues, vices, natural kinds, modes of evaluation, moral psychology

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